Blog to support the book "Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs" by Kristen Fischer
Creatively Self-Employed Website
30-something Jersey gal working as a freelance writer. Starbucks addict, beach-lover, kitty mother.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Why Doing Business Like a Girl Isn’t So Bad
By Kristen Fischer
I recently talked to a client of mine who asked me how I keep tabs on my customers. He was concerned about giving clients a first draft then waiting weeks to hear back from them. I agreed that it can be frustrating to wait on clients when you want to get something wrapped up.
My first thought was that he simply needed to follow up more. Then I realized that there are people in business who don’t think to do things like that. And then I thought about the differences between men and women—and how they handle business. Did this client of mine just approach things differently because he was a man? Could be.
It’s not a shock that the battle of the sexes exist. In general, men can be more upfront while women can use their emotional side to make business decisions. Neither are right or wrong…they just are. There are pros and cons to each style.
So while following up with a client may not be a “male” or “female” thing to do, and just a good business practice, I want to explore some characteristics that are generally of the female nature that can improve your business.
Reiterate things. While our significant others may call us nags, every smart business woman knows that communication is key—and sometimes, things need to be repeated. It’s not a bad idea to confirm details and verify things with a client. You won’t be nagging, either, because it’s business (but don’t go overboard because than you can turn into a pester). In business, this is known as the art of communication and practicing is always in style.
Get personal—a little. I wouldn’t say women are better relationship-builders than men, but they do have a knack for personal details. That’s why making an effort to be professional yet personal works so well for them. I try to establish that sort of relationship with clients by letting them know not-so-intimate details of my life that can be used as conversation-makers. Things that include my ongoing home improvement quest or passion for kayaking. For example, If I know that a client has a big weekend planned, I’ll make the extra effort to send them well wishes in a Friday afternoon email.
Focus on the details. Men and women can both be very focused. But in this sense, I’m talking about being focused when it comes to the “extras,” such as sending a thank-you note or remembering Administrative Assistant’s day for your bookkeeper. While frilly pink paper isn’t the norm for many gals, they do add extra touches to their work—try a personalized folder to deliver client work or a handwritten holiday card. These things go a long way to forge better relationships with clients, which women generally excel at.
Dress sharp. While men and women alike have fashion sense, I know women in the creative industry that don’t consider jeans the norm for a business meeting—and that professionalism makes a difference (especially for freelancers that rarely dress up due to the laidback lifestyle). Looking appropriate and pulled together puts your business at a professional advantage, which is always good.
Weigh decisions. Even though the age-old debate over pumps or slingback shoes can be a little tiresome, women are smart decision-makers. Most women aren’t reckless with choices and tend to evaluate their options more carefully—yet at the same time can take savvy risks. So while you don’t have to drag out every option, it’s good to put on your female thinking cap every once in a while to think things through when it counts.
Think I’m sexist? Nope. An upcoming post will include tips on how doing business like a guy can be beneficial!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I tend to think that most blog posts are recycled content--as in, even if it's written by someone new, the ideas are the same. (Heck my blog is a lot of sharing of others' work and not a lot of original content!) But not Susan Johnston's recent post, 6 Ways to Liven Up Your Copy.
She gives some really great tips on livening up copywriting, which I definitely need to keep my creativity on the fresh side.
Her tips include:
1. Parallelism. A popular rhetorical device that dates back to ancient China and Greece. Remember the old phrase, "Veni, vidi, vici"? Translation: "I came, I saw, I conquered." More recently, JFK immortalized the phrase “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” I incorporated parallelism into a tagline for a postcard I wrote: "Good copy gets your point across... Great copy gets results."
2. Juxtaposition. Try combining opposite elements. For instance, there's a documentary about Walmart whose tagline is "the high cost of low price." Schlotzky's Deli has the tagline "Funny name. Serious sandwich." Target's slogan is along same lines: "Expect More. Pay Less." When writing taglines, headlines, or body copy, you could juxtapose things that are light and dark, big and small, new and old, and so on.
Read more from Susan's article here.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
CSE contributor Calvin Lee discusses how to find and retain a designer over at Fuel Your Creativity.
In other news, I've been a little busy lately taking care of a newborn kitten. My sister found the baby on Labor Day and it was about 2 days old. "Gus" (if it's a boy, which we still have to confirm) is doing well now but life is a wee bit hectic! Hope everyone is doing well!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Inspiration Journal by Donna Downey
I've been busy reading blogs and talking to some friends in my industry. While I'm happy for the success of others and make it a point to let them know that, it sometimes makes me feel like I'm not doing enough.
You ever get that feeling?
You see others in your industry that aren't just doing their job (writing, painting, design, etc.) but they're going above and beyond positioning themselves as industry experts. And it's quite impressive.
But it got me to thinking, do I have to do that in order to be a great writer?
And neither do you.
While attending workshops and setting up speaking engagements is a great way to carve out your path in your respective creative industry, it's not the only way to be great at what you do. Some of us are good at what we do, and it's enough.
Not to say that getting press coverage or running a workshop isn't great. In fact, these are surefire way to position yourself as an expert in your industry. I'm just saying that it's not necessary. Why? Because some of us aren't natural-born leaders, nor do we have to be. Some of us have the gift to help others in their careers, and some of us work better focusing on our own efforts.
So how do you know if you should be pushing further? Simple...do you think you should be? Would you like to be a leader in your industry? If so, consider speaking or starting a blog on your industry. If that doesn't sound like fun, I wouldn't push it--the people who are successful as industry experts enjoy what they do. If you don't like that sort of thing, there's nothing wrong focusing your efforts elsewhere.
So, that's the end of this rant. But I'm always eager to see what you have to say. For now, I just wanted to say that whatever you do, you are enough.