Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Does it still feel like Monday to anyone else?

My article on using Google Local was accepted for the Well-Fed E-Pub the other day! I don't know when it'll be included (I'm sure there's a backlog, and Peter's a very busy man), but it felt great to give something back to the writing community. The E-Pub is one of the best commercial writing ezines out there, and often contains information beneficial to other industries, too. I'd encourage everyone to sign up Here.

I'm back in Pleasanton for the summer, so I'll be starting a new round of calls soon. I'm also thinking of trying some direct mail out, since my prospecting has gotten more thorough using the techniques I put in my Google Local article. I'll publish the article here after it's run in the E-Pub; it's only fair.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Two clients for the price of one!

Haven't updated in a while, I know, but I had a great day Wednesday. I drove down to Walnut Creek and had a meeting with two insurance brokers, both of whom want websites. I was brought in on the project by Tri-Valley Internet, and I'm very grateful to them for said business. The clients in this case were very open, we got along well, they gave me a great deal of useful information, and they're keeping on the ball.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to doing business with these people. If only all our clients and partners everywhere were this conscientious! I'll post their site links in a few weeks...when I'm done writing them up!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

This is perfect. Just too perfect.

The Red Ferret Journal

A blog about new tech gadgets, WITH an "oddly-colored mustelid" theme, too! I've added another blog to my regular reading. Kudos to Lockergnome for including this little gem in today's Search Engineer newsletter. To the writers of the Red Ferret Journal, here's the Blue Ferret giving you a big forepaws-up!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A Few Kudos

I'd like to take a moment to be grateful.

It's a joy to any businessperson - particularly copywriters - when their prospects and clients make the effort to communicate regularly. I just got off the phone with an insurance agent whose content I'll be doing very shortly. He took a trip for a week (he told me this himself beforehand), and followed up with me when he came back. A ten-minute phone call was all it took to set up our next meeting and get us both on the same page.

I like that very much. It shows great professionalism on his part, and I'm grateful for it. More of the business world needs to take a page from my client. Communication would VASTLY improve. So would business!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Oooh, Friday the 13th...

How many people actually know WHY Friday the 13th is considered a bad day (outside of some masked guy trying to kill you)? I looked around and found a site that offers lots of information on this diabolical day:
Snopes on Friday the 13th

The week's sure raced by! I've kept up some contact with prospects, and talked to a couple old colleagues I haven't seen for a while. Haven't had much time for cold calls, but I'm making up for it by compiling new, more comprehensive lists.

One thing I do like about the Bay Area - cities are interchangable. Calls not working in one city? Switch to another! We've got over 50 cities in a 50-mile radius over here. I can jump from city to city, industry to industry, whatever I feel like that day.

Okay, back to list-compiling! Another week to plan for.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Pleasant Emails

I got some very pleasant work-related emails over the weekend. One was from a fellow writer in the Bay Area, seeking to glean some information from a colleague. Gratified that someone DOES see me as a colleague, I was happy to help. He already has a very illustrious client lined up - a great portent for his career!

Another was from Peter Bowerman, the author of the "Well-Fed Writer" books that spurred me into freelancing in the first place, some four years ago (has it been THAT long??). I'd emailed him about submitting an article idea to his monthly newsletter, the Well-Fed E-Pub (find out about it here), and he gave me the go-ahead for it. Not to worry folks, I will be posting the article here as well, once it's complete. IF anyone's out there to read it, of course!

What's it about? Uh-uh, have to wait and see! (Besides, I'm working here. It's busy!)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Software Review: Foxit PDF Reader

Another software review! This time I've stumbled across something I never thought I would see - an alternative to the Adobe Acrobat Reader!

Foxit PDF Reader

This is a great alternative to the Adobe PDF Reader for one reason: it's FAST. The darn thing is tiny (only 1 MB! It would fit on a floppy!) and loads in about the time it took to glance at my watch to see how long it would take. My main problem with Adobe's reader has always been the time it takes to load up. I could make a root beer float with that much time. Not the case with Foxit - click, BAM, open.

It's not as pretty as Adobe, and I'm sure if I probed around in it more I'd find a few features that Adobe has missing in Foxit. Right now I'm just having too much fun in using it to get the e-scalpel. But for basic PDF reading (crack open an eBook, brush up on tech specs, etc.), Foxit is a clear and useful reader.

One more thing - Foxit uses a lot less resources than Adobe. I could never load Acrobat Reader on my laptop (old Pentium II, 233 MHz) from version 4.0 up. Anything newer and it just waggled its CD tray at me while playing a sound file called "Thhhbpt.wav." But Foxit starts up in no time on that old beast, and merrily tosses up whatever PDF I want to see.

So, new computers or old, fast or slow, Foxit PDF Reader makes viewing PDF files really easy, and a whole lot faster.

(For writers especially - no lookie if you're not! Well, I guess it's okay...)
There's one thing Foxit has that Adobe DOESN'T, and it's especially useful to writers and designers. On the main toolbar are three buttons - Actual Size, Fit to Page, and Fit Width. Why are these useful to writers & designers? It shrinks, stretches and tugs the PDF around your screen. Hold on, I'll get to the point eventually.

Many printers want their proofs or previews in PDF format, right? Industry standard and all. If you subject a PDF to a bunch of shrinking, stretching and tugging in Foxit, you can see if (and where) your document's formatting will change or break.

Whenever I write something in MS Word (I prefer WordPerfect and OpenOffice, though), I test it in a PDF reader to make sure there isn't any weird formatting element lurking, waiting to skew your text off some invisible margin. Foxit can give the document the e-equivalent of a stress test. It'll save you a lot of embarrassment, when a printer calls you and asks if your computer had a seizure while emailing that document!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Links today!

"Marketers Shift Ad Spending To Online" - Antone Gonsalves, on InternetWeek. Here's a trend I like - more online advertising. Real stuff, the ads that actually TELL you something, instead of shoving flashy banners in your face. I've clicked on a few AdSense ads myself - targeted advertising DOES work, if you take the time and make the effort to create something informative and not be pushy.

"Easy ways to entice the right people to your website" - Daegan Smith, on Web Design Library. If you've got a website, you have to promote it. No two ways about that. This article's an excellent summary of the "big" ways to do it.

AND! Today I'm doing something I've not done before - posting a link to a design firm I have NOT contacted yet: Ruff Haus Design, in San Diego. The reason I'm posting this is because they have a dog-themed website that's very quick and clean. The theme is extremely consistent, very light-hearted, and makes me smile on every page. They have cute dogs, what's not to like?

I can just picture one of their employees sitting at his desk, hammering stuff out on those keyboards, meeting deadlines, reaching for coffee...and then he stops and looks down. There's a big lab's head on his lap, looking up at him with that "Pet meeee" look.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Those Silly Reasons Not To...

Today's subject is expounded upon very cleverly by a copywriter (like me!) in New Jersey (not like me), Dina Giolitto of WordFeeder. It's an article that answers a lot of very pertinent questions about the business of professional writing:
11 Reasons Not to Hire a Freelance Copywriter (and Why They're All Poor Excuses)

Many of these questions I am asked at every mixer and meeting I go to. Oftentimes, the answer given was enough to make people scurry away, and I puzzled over better answers and proper situations to cite that would illustrate the value of copywriting to any business. I am very aware of the value; it's the sharing of it in terms of other people's bottom lines that's hard.

Fortunately for me (and for my fellow copywriters out there), Dina has provided us with powerful ammo!

The value of copywriting is often in dispute - typically by companies and individuals that do not recognize its value. Every single word that a company produces is unconsciously scrutinized from prospects, current customers, vendors, partners, and even competitors. Ultimately, purchasing decisions are made based on what a certain person in the chain feels about you. And the single best way of persuading them to your side is the WORDS you use.

It would take a book to properly illustrate this power. It would take libraries! And libraries have been written. But there will be more libraries. Maybe, one day, we'll all suddenly stop on the street corner and murmur to ourselves, "Ohhh, NOW I get it!"

But for now, we copywriters have 11 answers to 11 plaguing questions. Bonzai!


The above-linked article is copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto of WordFeeder, at WordFeeder.com and is linked to here with her permission. My sincere thanks to her for allowing me to post it.

Bio: Dina Giolitto is a New-Jersey based Copywriting Consultant with nine years' industry experience. Her current focus is web content and web marketing for a multitude of products and services although the bulk of her experience lies in retail for big-name companies like ToysRUs. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for rates and samples.