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What Should You Pay Your Professional Writing Team?

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Working with a professional writing team may not be something you do every day—and in fact, it may be something you’ve never done before at all. Whether you’ve got a new website to write or brochures to develop—a Facebook page to maintain or a company blog to create—a time is likely to come when you need a first-rate wordsmith. When that time does come, you need to know what to expect—particularly in terms of compensation.

Degrees of Quality

So what should you expect to pay your professional writing team? Frankly, it all depends on how good you want the writing to be. There are companies out there that will charge less than a penny per word; meanwhile, here at Grammar Chic, Inc., we strive to offer competitive and affordable rates, but we also value the hard work and skill that our writers bring to the table, and just don’t think it makes sense to have them work for fractions of pennies.

In other words, the old expression you get what you pay for is very much pertinent here. When you’re hiring a team of writers, the amount of money you pay will be—to some extent—reflective of the quality of the work you’re going to get. We’re not saying you should expect writers to break the bank, but if you pay basically nothing, you shouldn’t be surprised if you get basically nothing in return.

The Problem with Cheap Writers

There are a couple of problems you’re going to run into when you pay the lowest possible bid for a professional writing team. One of the most common occurrences among low-grade writing companies is that they outsource projects to writers in other countries—writers who may be able to string together a few words but don’t necessarily grasp the cadence of the English language. This is just going to drive up your own costs, as you’ll likely have to pay a second writing team to clean up the work done by the first!

And really, this is the problem in a nutshell: Low-paid writers aren’t going to provide quality work, plain and simple. For most of your business writing projects, you’re going to need more than a few tweaks to an existing document; you’re going to need brand new copy, written from scratch—and by the way, it also needs to be written to engage readers, to appeal to search engines, and to comply with all of your marketing goals. Only true professionals can accomplish this, and true professionals are seldom available for mere pennies.

Again: You get what you pay for, and quality writing is very much worth the slight added expense. To learn more about what a quality writing consultancy looks like, check out Grammar Chic, Inc. today: Visit www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444.

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Professional Writing Advice: When to Say “No” to a Client

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No matter if you are starting out as a writer or if you are a seasoned professional, the need to satisfy clients and retain their business never goes away.  Writing, as a profession, is hard work; it is often time consuming and research intensive.  Rewards are definitely there for professional writers who do it right, and indeed, the majority of the time, you are looking to please the people who pay you by saying “yes” to their requests.  However, there are times when “no” is the only correct answer that you can give to a client or a prospective client. Follow these tips to identify situations where you could be taken advantage of as a professional writer.

Professional Writing Client Red Flags:

  1. Demanding availability via phone, Skype or IM all day, every day.  I realize there are times when my client needs to get in touch with me, and I am happy to oblige.  However, it is also completely unfair for a client to think that just because they are paying me to complete work for them that they own me and, therefore, can interrupt me just because they see me on Skype.  As such, it is fair and completely reasonable to set boundaries from day one. As both a professional writer and business owner, I am very frank about when I am available.  This comes down to telling clients that if they need to talk to me it is best to set an appointment.  Realize I am not trying to put anyone off; rather, I am working to ensure that a client has my full and undivided attention and that I am also able to honor my daily deadlines.  If I know that you need to talk to me about revisions or edits, it is much more productive to say, “Amanda, I really need about 30 minutes of your time,” and allow me to schedule it accordingly.  On our office line, I have even gone as far to have the message state that we do not have a full-time receptionist and that the caller should leave a message.  It is important for clients and prospective clients to realize that a writer’s focus is essential.  When I am in the zone I can’t answer a call, because if I lose concentration it impacts the quality of my work.  At the same time, for every person who calls, their message is returned.  State your terms regarding communication from the get-go and set your boundaries. Remember, there is no need for a client to have unlimited access to you as a writer.  The only thing they are looking to satisfy is their own need to control you as they would an employee.
  2. Requesting a rush job without paying extra.  It is necessary to tell a client “no” if they call you up and request that they need something by the end of the day, but don’t want to pay extra for the rush service.  Remember, as a writer sometimes you need to demand respect and it’s not fair to your other clients if you push their work and ignore their deadlines simply to let someone cut in line without paying more.  Your options here are to say, “No, I can’t get your project done by the end of the day because of my current deadlines” or “Sure, I can do that. The rush fee is $X.”  At that point, they can choose either option A or option B, or they can negotiate a different deadline with you.  Remember, lack of planning on their part does not constitute an emergency on your part.
  3. Requesting you provide fresh sample writing to “determine a fit.”  You should never provide free sample work with terms dictated by a potential client. This is oftentimes a ploy to receive free content.  Remember, the moment you send anything out you lose all control.  If a prospective client asks for sample work, provide that person something from your portfolio; do not create anything new if they are not willing to pay for your time.  Moreover, don’t be afraid to say no to this request.  This is a huge red flag that they are not willing to pay you for your efforts and do not respect your skills or your craft.
  4. Refusing to provide a deposit on the work they request.  At Grammar Chic, we regularly ask for a 50 percent deposit upon project commencement with the balance payable upon project delivery.  This is not a crazy request, as I expect my clients to have some “skin in the game” if they want my team to dedicate time and effort.  Of course, for long-term clients, we are happy to work out payment plans, invoicing systems, etc.; but this comes after trust has been established.  Again, this follows the belief that “once you send out work product, you lose all control.”  If you don’t request a payment up front you run the risk of not getting paid at all.  If a client refuses to pay a deposit, pass on the project.  Anyone who respects your ability as a writer is going to be fine with a deposit.   Or, if the client worries about paying first without seeing the work, ask that the project funds be escrowed (freelance sites like Guru.com provide this).  Remember, much of the relationship between a client and a professional writer is built on trust and mutual respect.  Make sure you can deliver what you promise in order to make your client happy and come back, but also make sure that your interests are protected.
  5. Asking for major project changes without considering modifications in compensation.  Consider this scenario: someone calls you after a project has been completed per their specifications and suddenly says, “My boss just looked at the newsletter you created and said that he actually wants to focus on X topic now.”  Ultimately, if X topic wasn’t discussed when the project was originally contracted, then new charges are going to apply.  At Grammar Chic, we regularly have extensive conversations with our clients on project terms.  We record conversations (with client permission) and make sure we are well aware of what is required for the project to be considered complete.  We send confirmation emails stating what the project scope is and ask for confirmation prior to beginning the project.  If we do all of the work that is required, and then have the client come back and decide they want something different because of a change in direction, internal miscommunication on their end or some other issue, it is in our right to tell them, “No, we can’t do that without extra charges.”  I am willing to work with anyone to make sure that they get what they want and if it is my error or I misunderstood something then, of course, I make it right without charge.  However, if I was provided the wrong information, I won’t be penalized.  Remember, your time as a writer is valuable and it is fair to enforce these rules.  However, to make sure that you are in the right, insist upon a set of checks and a confirmation process prior to beginning a project.  It’s very hard for a client to argue with you on additional charges if they have signed off or offered written confirmation on the original terms.  As a writer you are no doubt good at what you do, but none of us have a crystal ball (I wish!).

At the end of the day, you are in business for yourself, and regardless if it’s just you or you have a team of writers to direct, you need to make sure your efforts are not taken advantage of or exploited.  The choice is yours.  However, it is the savvy writer and business owner who will make sure they have the terms and conditions in place that protect their interests and their business in the long run.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.

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Grammar Chic, Inc. Unveils the Secrets behind a Strong Resume Marketing Message

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A resume is a funny thing, if you think about it. This document takes all of your experience, your accomplishments and your skills and condenses them into just a page or so of content. If you have tried to write your own resume you have probably learned two things: first, it is incredibly difficult to write about yourself and second, drafting effective yet concise sentences to convey a career’s worth of experience is not an easy task. But the most challenging aspect of drafting your resume is, quite possibly, the creation of a strong marketing message.

Why Is a Marketing Message Important?

Thinking of a marketing message in terms of your personal work may seem a bit unnatural, but the truth is that you need to sell yourself to the hiring managers who will be sorting through an entire pile of resumes. This means that, above all, you need to set yourself apart while quickly conveying the fact that you are perfect for the job. As you can imagine, this is no easy feat; however, resume writing professionals know exactly how to craft a summary and list of core competencies that draw the attention of hiring managers.

A Summary: The Entire History of Your Career… Or Not

The summary is the first place in which you should build your marketing message. Given its name, “summary,” you may be led to believe that this is an overview of all of your skills, experiences, and accomplishments. This is, largely, not true. You see, a summary should be thought of as more of an introduction of who you are as a professional. While personal information is off-limits throughout the rest of the resume, this is where you showcase your softer skills and highlight only the most important (and relevant) of your capabilities. For instance, words like “dedicated,” “punctual,” and “passionate” are acceptable here.

Core Competencies: Reducing Your Skills Down to a Bulleted List

In the summary, you assert that you are a professional in a certain field with specific capabilities. In the core competencies section, you have to back up your claims with a list of your industry-related skills. These often double as keywords for which hiring managers scan when sorting resumes. By looking at both the summary and the core competencies alone, a manager should be able to identify where you would fit in their company.

As you can see, creating a strong resume marketing message is no easy task. In fact, the keyword and other elements incorporated into your resume will depend upon your industry and the job for which you are applying. This is why it is a good idea to turn to a professional when creating a new resume. The team at Grammar Chic, Inc. has helped its clients create strong resumes for years and is ready to assist you with yours! If you are feeling confused or frustrated as you begin to update or write your resume, call us today!

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Resume Writing Blunders, Errors and Trends: A Look Back on 2012

Over the course of the past year, I was invited by a recruiting network that I am partnered with to deliver a series of lectures and webinars on the ever-evolving subject of resume writing.  Even in light of the job market showing some signs of improvement, there are still countless job seekers out there who are looking for help with the document they use as their calling card with potential employers.  And while it seems as if there is a lot of misinformation available on the Internet, here are some general themes I regularly comment on:

  • Objective vs. Summary of Qualifications:  The one big no-no that I frequently see, both on resumes that land in the Grammar Chic, Inc. recruiting in-box as well as on resumes I am working on improving or rewriting, is the presence of an objective.  Let me state for the record, this is an outdated concept.  Your objective IS to get a job and if you have one of these kisses of death on your existing resume, you could very well be screening yourself out of the process.  Understand that many firms, both large and small, are using keyword scanning technology in their recruiting process.  This means that if your resume is lacking a Summary of Qualifications or Core Competency section within the first 1/3 of the document, you could be passed over.  Finally, even if your resume is receiving some human touch, if you have an objective, you could be communicating a strong message that says, “This resume has not been updated in the past decade.”
  • Little Mistakes that Make a Negative Impression:  The list is long here, but consider these items:
    • Never include references on your resume, whether personal or professional.  Only provide references if it is requested of you.
    • Including pictures, logos or graphics.  It’s amazing what some people feel is appropriate to include on a resume. Graphics and logos should be left off as should pictures or head shots.  Believe it or not, unless you are a model or an actor, if you include a picture on your resume, the potential employer is not allowed to store the resume on file for future consideration.  The reason?  Issues of racial or ethnic discrimination could be raised, amongst a host of other legal issues.  Therefore, leave the picture off.
    • Including personal social media accounts that draw attention to unprofessional behavior, risqué photos, controversial opinions, etc.  I have started speaking about using social media in a job search and have referenced this particular topic in webinars.  Ultimately, social media can be a great tool, especially if it provides continuity across platforms, meaning your paper resume and electronic networking resources, such as LinkedIn, are synched.  However, it becomes an issue if the line is blurred between personal and professional.  If you use Facebook or Twitter on a personal level, you should not only leave this off the header of your resume, but you should also be employing privacy settings so a potential employer cannot access this information prior to inviting you in for an interview.  Social media is a great tool, but if used in the wrong way, can hurt you in a job search.
    • Lack of accomplishments and measurable results.  If your resume simply provides a laundry list of what you did on a daily basis for an organization without actually exhibiting how those responsibilities or actions positively impacted a company, your resume could need an overhaul.  Ultimately, you need to show how you helped your employer, whether through revenue generating efforts, time saving methods, etc.  There has to be a measureable result that gets a potential employer thinking about what you would bring to the table at their organization.
    • Typos and other errors.  Let’s just say if you spell the name of the company that you are applying to wrong or say that you are “deetail oriented” without employing the use of spell check, you probably won’t get called for an interview.

Taking all of this into consideration, creating a resume that accurately highlights your background and effectively promotes you to a potential employer can feel like a daunting exercise.  This is especially intimidating when the majority of HR officials report that they only spend approximately 30 seconds reviewing a resume before they decide if they are interested in the candidate or not.  Therefore, if you are in the middle of a job search and are afraid to go it alone, reach out to the resume writing pros at www.grammarchic.net.  My team can craft a document for you that is up-to-date with changing technology, while also proficiently highlighting your skills and background.  The way I see it, your resume should sing your praises, and Grammar Chic, Inc. can ensure that your document hits all of the right notes.

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