Project Fee or Hourly Rate? That’s the Wrong Question

Today I read yet another set of blog posts debating whether writers, designers, and other creatives should charge hourly fees or project fees. The debate leads freelancers to focus on the wrong questions. If you’re going to make a living as an independent business owner, first get a good understanding of how your business model… Read more »

Are You Really “Unqualified”?

Some of my resume clients agonize over which jobs they “qualify” for. I encourage people to break down what they mean by qualification. Most people blur four distinct issues: Being uncredentialed. A doctor or lawyer must have a license. In those realms, an individual without a license is unqualified by definition. In most occupations, credentials… Read more »

3 Ingredients for a Productive Day of Writing

Freelancers are frequently asked how we “discipline ourselves” to work away from the office. Discipline can be a challenge. The flip side – the office falls short three essential ingredients for actually getting things done: 1. Solitude – a physical space with a social barrier to entry, whether an office door, a private apartment, or… Read more »

Managing Terms is Tough

The USDA site ChooseMyPlate.gov features a new icon for nutritional guidance. (Bye bye, food pyramid.) Here’s an amusing snippet from the section entitled “Beans and peas are unique foods”: “Green peas and green (string) beans are not considered to be ‘Beans and Peas.’”

Writing Benefits-Centered Copy

I’ve adopted a quick new test for figuring out if I’m conveying benefits clearly. A graduate school prof, lecturing on behaviorism, said, “There are only three primary reinforcers: food, air, and orgasm.” Everything else is a secondary reinforcer, learned by association. I think there are really only three essential benefits: Make or save money Save… Read more »

Trust Words

I’m working on some outward-facing materials for a large corporation. My charge: to make them more “customer-friendly.” I’m perplexed at the resistance I get to edits that seem like no-brainers to me. For example: I’m going back and forth about the word “necessary,” as in, “you may incur additional charges for necessary work done by… Read more »

I’ll Have 1,000 Words

It happened again. I followed a Tweet to a blog post promising some information that I’ve been looking for and found something I’ve come to dread: a video embedded where I expected text. Clever shorts can be entertaining and informative. Slideshows or video tutorials with voiceover can be effective as well. However it is boring… Read more »

What is a Book?

Just began a project on a team revising a book. The title is old enough to contain vague references to “the World Wide Web.” The challenges: more visuals! use links to information that may expire! use interactive calculators online where there were previously worksheets! Some people insist that the Web is killing the book. I… Read more »

Write Naked

One of my favorite viral posts is this, on the power dynamic surrounding the use of academic language. The same could apply, in many contexts, to business and legal jargon – or to the specialized language of any domain, really. When I coach business owners and independent professionals about marketing, I notice that they are… Read more »

The Artful Recommendation Letter

I love to write recommendation letters. It’s an everyday application of my fascination with biography. On occasion I read reference letters that don’t do what they could to make an individual stand out from the pack. Two simple tips: Emphasize the distinct capabilities that the letter’s subject offers. People hiring for lower-level jobs may want… Read more »