During my lifetime I have found that long-term friendships are among the most important aspects of life. One critical part of maintaining a long lasting friendship is making sure that you properly and appropriately thank your friends or colleagues after you have spent time with them, especially if they were hosting you.
I’m sorry folks, but even in this age of 24/7 texting, a text is NOT the appropriate or meaningful way to thank someone for anything. That’s because texts are so transient and are largely short blasts of random thoughts that have no long-term meaning or impact, and they disappear into the ether just as soon as they are sent. On the other hand, a properly written, brief thank you note in letter form (or even as an e-mail) will tell your friends that you really do care and appreciate your time with them.
A friendly thank you letter (or note) does not have to be long-winded at all. Two or three short paragraphs and less than one page will do. Just make sure it is sincere and heartfelt.
I recently visited a friend in another city and we had a great time doing things together for a few days. He was at work when I left to return home, so I took the opportunity to jot down a few lines, thanking him for his efforts as a host and guide as we explored his city together. I simply left the note on his kitchen counter when I departed. Two days later when I was back home I received a very nice e-mail from him, thanking me for my note and telling me how much he enjoyed our time together and how much he valued our friendship.
That simple gesture of writing a brief thank you note to my buddy is what lasting long-term friendships are made of, folks. It shows that you care, are truly grateful, and are willing to make a bit of an effort to say thanks. For important things in life you sometimes have to make a tiny bit more effort than simply thumb-typing a text as you wait in line at the airport for your mocha latte. In my opinion, a short friendly thank you letter or note is the only way to treat your true friends with the respect they deserve after they have put themselves out for you.
Bonus tip: Hand written or hard copy notes and letters to people who have done you favours at work, at school, or in any other social interaction are always appreciated. It’s true what they say: people may not remember what you say, but they will remember how you make them feel.
I have often heard it said that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn. I’m not sure how true this; any language that involves an alphabet different than your own would seem to me to be pretty tough. For example, an English speaker learning Spanish only has to deal with the different grammar rules and vocabulary, whereas an English speaker learning Russian or Chinese has a new alphabet to learn on top of the other things. Nevertheless, in the case of English, there are thousands of exceptions and irregular word usage conventions that must be very confusing for anyone trying to learn the language from scratch.
Here’s a list of perfectly correct phrases that must be frustrating for non-native English speakers. For each example cited, I have provided my own brief explanation on the second line that I hope will reduce reader confusion.
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
(The first “wound” is the past tense of the verb “to wind” something in a circular motion; the second “wound” is a noun meaning “cut” or “bruise”, as in “injured”.)
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
(The first “produce” is the verb phrase “to produce”, as in “grow something”; the second “produce” is the noun that means “agricultural produce” such as fruits, vegetables, etc.)
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
(The first “refuse” is the verb meaning “decline to accept”; the second “refuse” is the noun that means “garbage or trash”.)
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
(The first “polish” is the verb phrase “to polish”, as in wax or shine a car; the second “Polish” is an adjective that refers to the furniture as being made in the country of “Poland”.)
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
(The first “lead” is the verb meaning “to show the way” or “go in front”; the second “lead” is a noun that refers to the heavy metallic element known as “lead”. The colloquial phrase “to get the lead out” means “to hurry up”.)
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
(The first “desert” is the verb phrase “to desert” or “to leave behind”; “dessert” with a double “s” is the noun for the sweet course after the main meal; the second “desert” is an area of arid land such as the Sahara.)
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
(The first “present” is the noun that refers to “this time or now”; the second is the verb phrase “to present” as in “to give”; the third “present” is the noun for “gift”.)
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
(The first “bass” is a noun that refers to a type of fish; a “bass drum” is a percussion instrument that makes low frequency sounds when played.)
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
(The first “dove” is a noun that refers to a type of bird; the second “dove” is the past participle of “to dive”, meaning “to plunge”.)
10) I did not object to the object.
(The first “object” is the intransitive verb meaning “to oppose or disapprove of”; the second “object” is the noun referring to any material thing that can be seen and/or touched.)
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
(The first “invalid” is an adjective meaning “not officially acceptable”; the second “invalid” is the noun that refers to “a person weakened or disable by an injury or illness”.)
12) There was a row among the oarsmen in the first row about how to row.
(The first “row” is the noun meaning “a disagreement”; the second “row” is the noun meaning “a line of seats”; the third “row” is the noun that means “to propel a boat with oars”.)
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
(The term “too close” means “situated a very short distance from”; the second “to close” is the transitive verb meaning “to shut” something.)
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
The first “does” is the third person singular of the verb “to do”; the second “does” is the plural form of the noun “doe”, which means “a female deer”.)
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
(Both “a seamstress” and “a sewer” are people who make and/or repair clothing by “sewing” the material; a “sewer line” is a trench or pipe that channels unwanted water and sewage to other locations.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
(The first “sow” is the noun for “a female adult pig”; the second “sow” is a verb that means “to plant”, as in “plant some seeds”. Yes, pigs are smart but this statement is unlikely in reality!)
17) The wind was too strong for him to wind the sail.
(The first “wind” is the noun that means “air in rapid motion”; the phrase “to wind” is the verb phrase that means “to move something in a circular or spiral motion”.)
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
(The first “tear” is a noun that means “a rip”, “a hole”, or “a rent” in something; the second “tear” is the noun that refers to the salty liquid that can flow from the human eye in emotional situations.)
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
(The verb phrase “to subject” means “to expose”; the second “subject” is a noun that refers to the person to be tested.)
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friends?
(The first “intimate” is a verb that means “to state” or “to make known” something; the second “intimate” is an adjective that means “closely acquainted” or “very familiar”.)
This post is my third in the current series. The previous article covered words/terms beginning with the letters “d” to “f”; this one covers the letters “g” through “I”. I will continue to post articles from this series every three or four months over the next year or so.
So, here are some frequently confused and/or misused words beginning with letters (“g” through “i”).
There is often confusion whether to use singular or plural. Generally, the plural form should be used. However, the singular is sometimes used to simplify, as per the example.
The goods will arrive by ocean container next week.
All goods received from China will be subject to that new tax.
That charge applies to any good or service originating in Mexico.
“hardly” means “scarcely” or “only just”.
It is often used incorrectly as a double negative, as in: “He can’t hardly do it…”, which is incorrect.
I was so exhausted I could hardly make it back to camp.
After the accident, she could hardly remember anything that had taken place before.
has got, have got
“got” is unnecessary when used with have/has in such phrases as:
“We’ve got twelve days until the deadline.”
We have only twelve days left until the deadline.
They have six months to go before their membership expires.
“healthful” means that something is conducive to good health.
“healthy” means that something possesses good health.
That was a very healthful meal that they served us.
If you continue to follow that program you will be very healthy.
“Hisself” is non-standard. DON’T use it. INSTEAD use “himself”.
He went to the game by himself.
He did it all himself.
“historical” means something is related to history.
“historic” means that something is famous or notable in history.
That voyage was of great historical significance.
Gandhi is considered by most historians to be a major historical figure.
Her historic speech broke down many barriers for the first time.
“hanged” is only used in the context of capital punishment.
“hung” is used in all other cases.
In that country, all people convicted of murder are hanged.
He hung from the branch by the tips of his fingers.
She hung her degree directly above and behind her desk.
They hung out at their favorite hang-out, the corner store.
These two abbreviations are often confused and/or used interchangeably.
“i.e.” means “that is to say…”. [from the Latin: “id est”]
“e.g.” means “for example…” [from the Latin “exempli gratia”]
Conference attendees should assemble quickly (i.e., within five minutes).
To belong, you need to hold an accreditation with a professional society (e.g., CA, RN, MD).
[Note: with e.g. DO NOT add “etc.” at the end of the list. It is a given that these are just examples and there will be others.]
“imply” means to indicate a particular point or meaning in speech or in writing.
“infer” means to make a conclusion based on something that had been said or written.
His statement is expected to clearly imply our future priorities.
Based on the thrust of her speech, we can infer that she is giving us the green light to proceed.
“include” refers to part of a whole.
“comprise” refers to all parts of something.
The Cabinet includes five newly elected representatives.
The committee is comprised of eight members; one from each corporate region.
in regard to
“in regard to” [NOT “in regards to”]; means “with reference to” something.
Equivalent phrases are: “with respect to” or “with regard to” or “as regards”.
He questioned her in regard to her whereabouts that night.
That decision was made with regard to historical religious practices.
With respect to the first paragraph, you are absolutely correct.
As regards our previous discussion, my position has not changed on that matter.
“intense” means “to a high degree” or “in an extreme way”.
“intensive” means to do something thoroughly; in a concentrated manner.
His focus on the task at hand was very intense.
Their training program was quite intensive.
This is non-standard and redundant. DO NOT use it. Instead, use “regardless”.
We are leaving tomorrow, regardless of the weather.
Regardless of her opinion, I am still going ahead with our plan.
There is an old expression that states “the squeaky wheel always gets the grease”. My overwhelming experience over the years proves that this is absolutely true! If you don’t express your concern about a problem or issue to someone in charge, things will never change. I have also found that by far the most powerful way to express one’s concerns about an issue is via a polite formal complaint letter. This is especially true if you are dealing with a large company or government organization.
Although complaint letters aren’t always fun, they usually need to be written
In most cases, if people don’t complain, the problem agency at fault (e.g., company or government) won’t even know that the problem that you and others may have experienced even exists. Legitimate complaints, by even a few people, can (and often do) result in better service for everyone. Not only that, writing complaints down can be personally beneficial for the writer too!
That’s right. Writing complaint letters can be an empowering and therapeutic experience! It allows one to take action instead of playing the role of a victim and nursing an ongoing resentment towards a company about poor service or treatment that you received. Once the complaint letter is written and in the mail, you can let it go knowing that you have done something tangible and constructive about the situation.
In fact, properly written and handled complaint letters almost always get action!
Once I started writing complaint letters, I began receiving gracious letters of apology and contrition from senior executives including bank vice-presidents and directors of marketing for giant corporations. Getting those felt one heck of a lot better than polishing an ongoing resentment and getting even angrier the next time something bad happened. Sometimes I even received discount coupons and free merchandise!
Over the years, many people have contacted me about writing complaint letters for them. I always request that they at least give me a draft in their own words so that I can get some idea of the essence of the situation. More often than not, what they send me is an angry and rambling diatribe that just confuses the situation or issue.
If you want your complaint letter to have impact and to elicit action, there is a way to structure and write them that I have found will work without fail. I documented this in an article a few years ago titled “10 Secrets for Writing Killer Complaint Letters”. Here’s the link:
Minutes of meetings are important documents because they record in writing what was discussed in the meeting, and what decisions were actually made there. In organizations that maintain good practices, a review of the minutes of the primary management meetings over time would reveal an excellent record of the history of that organization.
During my 25+ years working in various organizations, there were many occasions on which I was tasked with either writing the minutes of meetings myself, or editing/approving minutes written by others. As a result, below are a few suggestions I have for you, should you ever be asked to write the minutes for any type of meeting.
5 Tips For Writing Good Meeting Minutes
1. Work From An Agenda
A meeting agenda that lists the main items to be discussed should be circulated to all potential attendees a few days (ideally) prior to the meeting so that they can make sure it is on their schedule and that they will have the necessary documents that will be needed to discuss the items listed. That very same agenda should be used by the meeting chairperson to conduct an orderly meeting. Keep this list short and focused! A good meeting should last no more than an hour. Anything more than that, and it becomes unproductive and a time-waster. Your colleagues will thank you for running a tight, short gathering.
2. Be Concise
Meeting minutes should NOT be a long-winded and verbatim “he said” – “she said” account of the meeting. They should briefly record only the essence of the major points discussed and/or major decisions reached, from a bottom line perspective. The key items to record are decisions made/deferred, the specific reasons for that decision, and most importantly who is responsible for any follow-up action.
3. Use Clear and Precise Language
Because minutes of meetings are an “official” record of corporate decisions made, they are often referenced many months later in order to recall what “exactly” was decided at a previous meeting. This makes clarity and precision of language very important when later trying to determine exactly what decision(s) was made and what specifically led to the decision.
4. Make the Right Person Responsible
In most organizations, a corporate “meeting secretary” is made responsible for organizing meeting logistics, drafting of minutes, and distribution of meeting-related documents such as agendas, minutes, and support documents. This is an important task; the person chosen for this should be well-organized with above-average writing skills.
5. Make Someone Else Accountable
Once the meeting secretary has drafted the minutes they should be carefully reviewed and revised if necessary, by the person who chaired the meeting. That individual, who will normally occupy a position of some responsibility in the organization, will then sign them off as “approved” before they are distributed by the secretary.
Well written minutes are critical to the effective functioning of organizations over time. Good minutes can be used as checklists for what has been achieved to-date in an organization, as well as action lists of what tasks have to be completed going forward. Making sure that your organization produces well written and meaningful meeting minutes will be an important element of its success.
One of the most serious problems that many of us face on an almost daily basis is the one that arises from having to deal with the dreaded writer’s block when faced with a deadline. Writer’s block is definitely not a pleasant experience. Especially, when the due date for one’s business report or project paper is getting closer by the day! I know what that knot in the gut feels like, every time the boss asks you “how’s that project going?” on those occasions when you don’t manage to avoid him/her as you try to slink unnoticed down the hallway.
Writer’s block is fear-based
For various reasons, many of us have an incredible fear of committing ourselves in writing whenever we are faced with a blank page or computer screen. In reality, this is actually an irrational feeling that keeps us from putting pen to paper. We secretly wonder just what exactly is going to come out of this keyboard/pen, and when it does, will we be revealing that we are some kind of incompetent idiot who doesn’t know what they’re talking about?
The good news is that writer’s block can definitely be beaten!
That’s right! I have learned through trial and error over the years that writer’s block can be easily overcome if we do the proper preparation and follow a few simple guidelines.
Below are my personal hard-earned practical tips for overcoming writer’s block:
Don’t Write It Too Soon
Before trying to write, it is important to prepare mentally for a few hours or days (depending on the size of the task and your deadline) by mulling the writing project over in the back of your mind. Once you’ve done the necessary reading, research, and thinking, your sub-conscious mind needs time to process all of that. Let it sit and have your subconscious mind work on it (Just as athletes don’t like to peak too soon, writers shouldn’t write too soon either!).
Preparation Is Important
Prior to writing, read over whatever background material you have so that it is fresh in your mind. I always do a final review of all material gathered, carefully marking the important points with a yellow hi-liter. With this material fresh in your mind, you will find that the writing process flows better once you get started, due to less need to refer to your background.
Develop A Simple Outline
Before sitting down to actually start writing, compile a simple point-form list of all of the key points you want to cover, and then organize them in the order in which you are going to cover them. (I know, I know… your Grade 6 teacher told you the same thing… but it actually does work!).
Keep Research Documents Handy
Once you finally sit down to write, make sure that all of your key background materials are spread out close at hand. This will allow you to quickly refer to them without interrupting the writing flow once you get on a roll. I keep as many of the source documents as possible wide open, and within direct eyesight, for quick and easy access and reference whenever I’m writing something.
Just Start Writing
Yes, that’s exactly what you should do. Once you have prepared mentally and done your homework as discussed in the previous steps, you will be ready to write — even if your writer’s block is saying no. Just start writing any old thing that comes to mind. Go with the natural flow. In no time at all, you will get into a rhythm, and the words will just keep on flowing.
Don’t Worry About Editing the First Draft
Once the words start to flow don’t be concerned about making it perfect the first time around. Remember, it’s your first draft. You will be able to revise it later. The critical thing at the outset is to get those thoughts written down as your mind dictates them to you.
Use an Example or Template
Get an actual sample of the type of document that you need to write. It could be something that you wrote previously, or it could be something from an old working file, or a clipping from a magazine article, or a sales brochure you picked up; as long as it is the same type of document that you are writing. Whatever it is, just post it up in your line-of-sight while you are working. You’ll be amazed at how it helps the words and ideas flow. This example will serve as a sort of visual model for you.
In my experience this last point is the ultimate secret for overcoming writer’s block.
I continue to use this last technique on a daily basis. In fact, I rarely start writing anything anymore from a blank page or screen. I always manage to find an example from somewhere and work from that. Once you’ve used this method for a while you will be able to easily get templates from writing projects that you have done previously.
I recommend you write a goodbye letter whenever you are leaving one organization to take a position elsewhere. It is a professional gesture to make; one that I believe is worth the extra few minutes that it takes, even though you are leaving and might not expect ever to be back. It is the kind of action that will make you stand out in people’s minds as a sincere person and colleague.
Just the fact that thousands of people from all over the world search out this particular type of sample letter each week, tells me that a lot of folks are looking for ways to leave a positive and lasting impression when they move on in the business world.
Here are a few points to keep in mind when composing a work-related goodbye or farewell letter.
Keep It Short
Two or three short paragraphs will do. Never exceed one page for such a letter.
Make It Sincere
Use simple, sincere and upbeat language. Keep it real — don’t forget that the people who receive it know you; so make sure whatever you say rings genuine and true.
Take the High Road
Even if you were unhappy in your position and are pleased to be leaving, make sure you don’t say anything that would burn your bridges. You never know when you might end up working with some of the recipients again in the future. Nothing good will come out of a negative farewell letter.
Don’t Include Details
I suggest that you do not provide the details about where you will be moving in your letter. Simply offer to give your contact coordinates if anyone wants to stay in touch. Your letter should be focused on the place and people you are leaving. So, don’t give too much information about your destination, except to those who request it from you directly. (That way, you’ll also find out who your friends really are!)
In my opinion, an appropriately sincere goodbye or farewell letter is definitely the most professional way to leave an organization, and is well worth the time and trouble. (As usual, I always recommend a real letter, but if that’s not possible a well-worded e-mail can also work).
Writing a business report can be one of the most difficult writing tasks we face, whether it’s for work business or school business. In fact, people often cringe at the thought of writing a business report. Granted, these are somewhat more complicated than business letters, but if approached in the right way, writing a business report can be a straightforward and reasonably painless process. So, to help people with their report writing I have put together a few tips that I have picked up over the years.
There are a number of different generic types of business reports including: general business report, business plan, business proposal, marketing plan, strategic plan, business analysis, project report, project analysis, project proposal, project review, financial plan, financial analysis, and others. Although the technical content and terminology will vary from report to report, depending on the subject and industry context, the actual “report writing process” will be essentially the same. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short 10-pager, or a major 100-plus pager, that process will involve the same fundamental steps.
The following seven points are what I consider to be the essential steps for writing any type of business report; whether it’s for your organization or for a school project. Follow these steps carefully and you won’t go wrong.
Confirm Exactly What the Client Wants
This is a very important initial step. Whether the client is a customer, a teacher, a professor, or someone else, be sure that everyone is talking about the same thing in terms of final outcome and expectations. When determining this, always think specifically in terms of the final deliverable (usually the final report). What issues must it address? What direction/guidance is it expected to give? What exactly will it contain? What bottom line are they looking for?
Determine What Type of Report Is Required
This is another very important initial matter to clarify. There are a number of different types of business reports. Although there is usually overlap among the different types, there are also important differences. For example, do they want: a business plan, a business proposal, a strategic plan, a corporate information management plan, a strategic business plan, a marketing plan, a financial plan, or what? Know exactly what type of final report is expected from the outset.
Conduct the Initial Research
Once you know exactly what the client (or you) wants, and the specific type of report they are looking for, you are ready to conduct your initial pre-report research. This stage may be as simple as collecting and reading a few background documents supplied by the client, or it could involve developing questionnaires and conducting detailed interviews with the appropriate people. It will vary with each situation. The Internet of course, can really simplify and shorten the research process, but don’t forget to double and triple check your sources.
Write the Table of Contents First
In my experience, drafting the Table of Contents (TOC), before you start writing the actual report is the single most important key to developing a successful business report. This document can normally be done before, or in parallel with, the first phase of project information gathering. This should be more than just a rough draft TOC. It should be a carefully thought out breakdown of exactly what you imagine the TOC will look like in the final report. Although this takes a certain amount of time and brain power up-front, it really streamlines the rest of the process. What I do is to actually visualize the final report in my mind’s eye and write the contents down. This really works! This TOC then becomes a step-by-step template for the rest of the process.
If you are writing the report for an external client, it’s a good idea to present the draft Table of Contents to them at this point in the process and get their approval. This will force them to think it through and confirm what they really want early on. Once they have agreed to a TOC you will have their buy-in for the rest of the process, therefore significantly reducing chances of any major changes or reversals at the final report phase.
Do Additional Research
After thinking through the TOC in detail, you will know if any additional research is required. If yes, do this extra information gathering before you sit down and start to actually write the report. That way, once you begin the writing process you will have all of the information needed at hand and you will not have to interrupt the writing process to conduct any further research.
Write the Report by Filling In the Blanks
That’s right, by filling in the blanks. Once the TOC skeleton framework is in-place as per the previous step, writing the actual report becomes almost like filling in the blanks. Just start at the beginning and work your way sequentially through the headings and sub-headings, one at a time, until you get to the end. Really. At that point, with all of the preparation done, it should be a relatively straightforward process.
If you follow the above steps in the “report writing process” you will be amazed at how quickly your reports will come together. Give it a try – it really works.
“Be specific to attract your ideal client” – Wendy Nicole Anderson
So you’re finally ready to take the plunge and work as a freelance writer full time? Congratulations! You are in for an interesting and, hopefully, rewarding journey.
One thing that can save you a lot of stress, money and time is getting the right type of clients. And this is something that can happen before you even talk to a potential client. It starts with how you present your work: your portfolio.
But if you’ve never made a portfolio before, you probably have questions. How much do your clients need to know about you? How open and general can your topics be? This post will answer all that and more, and help you create the perfect portfolio to catch the ideal client.
Crafting the perfect writing portfolio can mean a huge difference in the clients you get and the money you make. It manages not only their expectations of the type and quality of your writing, but can also inform them how you work, and what you expect from them.
1. Determine Your Why
Writing is all about self-motivation. So think about what keeps you motivated. Having a clear idea of where you want to take your business from the start will help give your career a clear direction. When you have determined what drives you in your business, think about your ideal client. They should align with your goals. Who are you trying to help, and how will you help them?
2. Building A Flexible Portfolio
Specializing allows you to make more money and make a name for yourself by writing in a particular field. Choose no more than two specialties to highlight at one time.
Though specializing can help you make a name for yourself, it’s essential to keep your portfolio flexible. Ideally, you’ll always be working to find new areas of income. Some of your subspecialties may connect to your specialty, but they don’t have to.
Maybe you’ve got several years experience in finance writing, but you’ve always had an interest in travel. You could add some pieces which reflect your interest in finance, combined with a love of travel, with topics about how to invest so you can spend more time traveling. Or, you might choose to create multiple portfolios, for different client personas. Keep these small, simple, and not too disconnected from each other.
3. Getting The Details Right
Professionalism in writing means clear, concise writing, no typos, grammar, or spelling issues to worry about. Familiarize yourself with common mistakes. Brush up on your grammar and spelling and always read aloud to fix clunky sentences, repetitive words, and typos.
You want the writing in your portfolio to reflect your best. You’ll also want to spend some time thinking about templates. You need something simple and streamlined, with an easy-to-read font and layout. You’d be surprised how much design comes at the cost of quick and straightforward readability. Keep your font at least 12-point, in something simple and readable.
4. Find The Right Portfolio Service
The great thing about our online, interconnected world: it’s easy for clients to find you. There are plenty of portfolio services available to choose from, and what you choose depends on your specific needs. Here are some general considerations to help you make a decision:
You want to find a place that allows you to highlight your writing, without leaving it dull on the page. It should be easy to navigate and reflect your writing voice. If you’re a technical writer or copywriter, you might want something more streamlined or modern. If you’re a ghost blogger who writes relationship and mommy blogs, you might want something more approachable or playful.
While you’re looking for a hosting service, don’t forget to consider the practical elements. How much space will you need? How many unique emails? Will you add multimedia components? Is it easy to navigate social media, add newsletter sign-ups, and other forms of promotion? What are you willing to spend? Remember, this is a client’s first look at you, as a writer, and a business.
5. Get Personal – But Don’t Overdo It
Your portfolio’s About Me section is where you can get personal. Use a tone consistent with the pieces you select. Talk about your hobbies and interests, but be mindful of your audience. This is where you can afford to get a little more informal. But don’t get too personal.
Talk about how long you’ve been writing, but not your age. Talk about your childhood interest in an obscure topic you love writing about, but less about your childhood hopes and fears. Keep the tone positive and upbeat. But stay away from anything cutesy or quirky. Using text talk might be okay in your private messages, but the About Me on your website or portfolio is still all about what you can offer potential clients. So keep it polite, professional, and focused on your work.
6. Get Some Feedback
As a writer, you’re mainly working in a vacuum. You procure your own clients, produce your own pages, and you hit that submit button, and read all those rejection letters by yourself. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need anyone, or even that you have to go it alone.
Get some feedback. Find a mentor, or writing partner friend who can help you choose the right pieces to fit your writing goals, and the type of projects you’re looking to tackle. Get a trusted editor to check your portfolio or website before it goes live, for readability. If you have a friend who knows coding or graphic design, talk to them about how to create something simple and unique, and how to maintain it. There’s plenty of help out there when you need it.
7. Keep Updating
The most important part of being a professional writer is to remember to write! Running a business for yourself can be tough, and it’s easy to lose sight of your goals. Updating doesn’t have to mean a big overhaul every few months. Instead, take regular stock of what you’re working on, what you’re excited about, and where your goals are. Make it a habit to check in with yourself. Don’t be afraid to take pieces out of your portfolio as they’re no longer relevant to your personal goals.
8. Include Your Pricing And Terms
This is a little more controversial than other elements you might want to include. Many writers don’t like to publish their prices before they talk to a lead, as it can differ per project what they charge.
That said, being completely transparent about your pricing and terms can save you a lot of negotiation time and, if you’re like me, having to discuss that icky “money” thing. It can also ward off anyone looking for a “good deal”, and prevent any misunderstandings around payment and delivery terms.
So if possible, state your pricing and terms on your portfolio. You can offer different packages to cater to the different types of projects. And the last piece of advice on this: ask for (partial) upfront payment. It will take the sting out of worrying about getting paid after your work is done.
An excellent writing portfolio can elevate your career. It gets you the right exposure, to the right people. This is the difference between taking the jobs you actually want and scrambling to keep yourself afloat with one bad client after another. Build a portfolio that filters your leads, and start your business right with an ideal set of clients.