Category Archives: Business writing

Business plans, brochures, press releases, sales slicks, web site copy and even web site plans are all forms of business writing and each offers exciting opportunities for freelance writers of all stripes.

School Board Voting for Taxation Without Representation in Upper Oxford Pennsylvania

If we were black or all over the age of 60, we could claim discrimination and body slam the elected — that’s right elected – members of the Oxford School District with a law suit that would stop the redistricting scheme in a heartbeat.

But we’re not all black, not all over 60  We are simply more than 2,500 taxpayers who get hit with a school tax bill  paying in the mid to high $6,000 range every year.  And we are about to lose ANY representation on the school board.

This is America, you say,  Taxation without representation is why we fought the Revolutionary War, you add.  This cannot be happening in this sleepy, ruburb community.

It is.

Oxford School Board Member Joe Scheese presented the resolution saying the current division of the district into 3 regions was, “…very skewed and out of balance.”

Scheese wants board members to be elected at large –  all 9 of them.  And taxpayers in the respective districts would NOT be able to vote for specific representatives who live in their township, know their issues and can represent the people and problems specific to Upper Oxford, effectively.

If Scheese feels that we don’t deserve representation, then perhaps he, and the School Board, can do without the tax dollars of the 2,484 people they propose to disenfranchise.  Conservatively speaking, that’s only $1,242,000.

Cut us out of the process if you must but give us back our hard-earned money if you do.  No one should have to pay for being railroaded by an elected official, no one.

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Filed under Budgeting, Business writing, Home Ec on Acid

One Writer’s Mistakes – Buying But Not Reading

Writing has been in my blood for decades.  Words dance in my head from the moment I wake up to the moment my head drops onto the pillow.  Successful as a writer for magazines, professional groups and web sites, I still long for success as a writer of the Great American Novel — a wonderful goal that, at my current rate, I will never reach.

Why?  Because I persist in making all the mistakes that novice writers make starting with a common one — buying books — not reading or writing them.  I consider this…

Mistake #1

I am surrounded by books — on my desk, in the bookcase, on my nightstand, even in my car!   Pick a day or an hour and you will find me with two or three books “in progress.”  But somehow, with all that information filling every space in my rooms and in my head, this reader and writer has managed to ignore some of the best advice in the world.  I buy books on writing…but I don’t read them.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s book Steering The Craft languishes on my shelf beside Artful Sentences, Writing Dialogue and Modus Operandi.  I could start a lending library with all the books I own.  But instead of reading them, I dust them , look fondly at the titles and think about cracking one open until life intercedes and the books go back to gathering dust and fading in the sunlight.

Well, they did until last week when I idly picked up James Cross Giblin‘s Guide to Writing Children’s Books.  Giblin  has authored twenty-five books of his own and in his years at Clarion Books helped grow its titles to 400 books in print.  The man knows the children’s book market and he shares ideas, resources and just plain common sense advice in his guide.

I wrote my whole YA novel with that book sitting about six feet from my elbow.  Three hundred pages, three rewrites and my novel is still in the “shopping” stage.  Now, only two words dance in my head…if only.

So while I wrestle with the fact that I had insight and wisdom sitting on my shelf and chose to ignore it, here’s hoping that other, aspiring authors can learn from my mistake.  Don’t just buy books – read them!  Even the bad ones have something to offer.

There are many more writer’s mistakes to explore.  In the coming weeks, a few more mistakes that can derail your writing and a few more ways to avoid them.

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Filed under Business writing, Copywriting, Freelance Writing, Medical Writing, Writing Advice, Writing Articles, Writing for the Web, Writing Resources

Freelance Wanted, Sort of…

This is a story about a freelance job that looked good but, by the end of the process, smelled bad.

Like many freelancers, I troll Craigs List a lot, looking for opportunities.  Most of the time, I am looking for writing jobs but every once in a while, an ad of a different color attracts my attention like the ad for transcriptionists.

The company, Focus Forward, is willing to pay $10 for every 15 minutes of transcribed tape.  Since I transcribe my own interviews all the time and am pretty fast at transcription, I thought I could make a few fast dollars doing something interesting and easy.  I applied.  It wasn’t all that easy.

First of all, you have to download transcription software.  Then you have to download the “rules” for transcription, transcribe a test tape and send it in for “inspection.”  I was fine with the software download.  I was fine with doing the test.  I ran into trouble with the “rules.”  They have a LOT of rules that are not logically ordered and contradictory.  But I decided to play the game.

Here’s a company that states, right in the rules, that you have to transcribe the audio tape, verbatim.  Last time I looked, that meant word for word.  In those same rules, however, they have a whole list of words and verbalized pauses that they don’t want transcribed.  Problem #1.

They also carefully call out that you have to transcribe everything including the conversation at the end…but don’t mention the conversation at the beginning. So transcribe everything but not really.  Transcribe the conversation at the end…but no mention of the beginning.   Problem #2

And Focus Forward gives you ways to cover words that are either not clearly stated on the tape or not at all familiar to you.  You are told to use [PH] to indicate you are spelling the word phonetically if you can’t hear or don’t recognize it.  I used this device for a drug name I had never heard of but that was called out as incorrect in the transcript.  Problem #3.

I got a snarky email informing me I didn’t make the cut.  Failure to type the intro conversation about the weather and vacation was fatal.  I also use [PH], capitalized celiac and spelled Super Fresh as one word.

Freelancers everywhere probably have similar stories of making an honest effort to meet all the requirements of a prospective client only to be washed out NOT for lack of skill or lack of trying but for being utterly unable to jump through hoops that are tangled up like spaghetti.  If, when that happens to you, remember…it really isn’t your problem.

BTW Focus Forward is STILL looking for transcribers.  I wonder why?

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Filed under Business writing, Freelance Writing, Medical Writing

Writing and Positioning and Marketing, Oh My!

I am working on a piece for a holistic health and wellness facility and find that this is more difficult than writing about the recent face transplant surgery or telling the story about living legend, nurse Gail Russell.  Sure, this is a story like all the rest but there are some twists and turns here that add to the complexity.

How do you position a group of healthcare professionals who are trained in Western medicine but steeped in Eastern healing practices?  Sounds like the best of both world but one challenge is making the services they offer make sense to the target market they are trying to reach — educated, affluent men and women who are looking for ways to get healthy and skeptical of anything smacking of “new age.”

As with most of my assignments, I am starting with research – demographic and psychographic.  Who are these people?  What healthcare challenges are they facing?  How do they view Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM)?  What message will resonate with them and move them to use this group of highly-trained professionals?

Early research on Google Ad Words shows there is a real need for these services in the Pennsylvania – Delaware – Maryland area.  Now it is just a case of digging and figuring out what to say to whom about everything from stress and anxiety management to cranial sacral manipulation, to energy healing and self-hypnosis.

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Filed under Business writing, Uncategorized

Telling Business Stories

Why is it that so many people think that business writing has to be serious?

It has to be accurate.  It has to meet business objectives and move people to take action.  But it does NOT have to be serious or boring or flat.  In fact, business writing should be just as enjoyable to read as a good novel!

Take business plans, for example.  Business plans are written to get funding — private or public but it’s still all about dollars.  What if I told you that the business plans I wrote had banks fighting to see which one would be chosen to fund them?  When the head of the Northeast Regional Business Council read the plan for Lizza Fine Art – www.lizzafineart.com, her only questions were, “Where are you and how much money do you need?” 

When you get a look at the summary and excerpt you will see that it gives all the information that lenders need to make good business decisions but in a way that makes reading the plan enjoyable.

biz-plan-excerpt

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Filed under Business writing, Freelance Writing