|View from the cottage|
Vacation time. At long last, I get the heck out of Dodge. At first I felt guilt for wanting a few days off -- didn't I just have a surgery/convalescence? Isn't that time off? Yes. And definitely no.
While I took it easy during that time, I didn't take but maybe three days off from actual work. Sure, I worked maybe a few hours before having to take a nap (which I miss), but I worked when I should have been resting. Luckily I recovered despite my own attempts to rush things.
After a few months of light work and a few days of intense work, I'm ready for a real vacation. Alas, this one is only a few days long -- I'll be back with you on Wednesday. But as you read this, I'll be an hour and a cup of chai into my trip.
We had a great time on our free call with Cathy Miller yesterday. Cathy presented a great topic of discussion - What do you want from your freelance writing? - and everyone who participated was candid with what their issues are and where they are in their careers. It sounded like a group of motivated, really smart people. I don't think they'll have issues for long.
Contrast that with the correspondence I've been receiving from a certain company. They bill themselves as experts in their industry, as the go-to place for their kind of services. Yet they present themselves like amateurs. It's frustrating to see because I know they have more going for them than their wrapper suggests. But we consumers do judge a book by its cover. In the case of this particular company, I'd leave them on the shelf amid the cobwebs.
Maybe we writers make similar mistakes. In fact, I know some of us do. So here are five ways to look like an inept writer instead of the pro freelancer:
Keep that stale image. That brochure or website (or even the business card) got you business ten years ago, but is it still relevant? Tastes change. Likewise, technology evolves. If it didn't, wouldn't we all still have that running dog graphic on our websites? Review your website. Does it look dated and tired? If so, freshen it up. Same goes for your business card.
Be inconsistent. I'm guilty of having a website design that doesn't mirror my business cards or brochures. I think to some extent that's okay as long as the messaging is the same. For instance, you don't want to get authoritative on your brochure and have your website read like a teen's diary. The best idea would be to make it all cohesive, but if you have a stack of business cards to use up (like I do), make sure you use the same tone in each piece.
Drop the ball. I've worked with companies whose clients have been disappointed time and again. Why? Because in the rush to get new business, these clients forgot to keep the existing clients front-and-center. If you promise something by a certain deadline, meet it. If you can't, tell them as soon as you realize you need more time.
Cliche it to death. When the Dot Com boom was in full swing, I would get press releases from PR firms and I knew they had no idea what they were writing about. It was all new and the buzz words were sexy, but a little explanation would have done wonders. It became ridiculous how often the same buzz words were tossed around -- it was even more hysterical to torture PR people by asking them "Yes, but in plain English, what is that?" Still, cliches will kill your writing and your image. Find a new way to say it. You'll gain more attention for your creativity than for using throw-away lines.
Cover your gaffes with half-truths. In one case I knew of, a company pretty much lied its way out of the tongue-lashing they deserved. Why not just admit it, apologize, and break your neck to make it right? Doing that earns you honesty points and, if you can rock it properly, awesomeness points.
In what ways are you seeing companies or writers looking particularly inept?