Whatever your personal views, I think youâ€™d agree that politics in the UK (and the USA) is going through a tricky phase. There is a higher degree of confrontation, argument and abuse than I remember ever seeing.
As a result, there are various leading political figures calling for calm, and for a more respectful, kinder approach.
I think itâ€™s important we remember these same values in our day-to-day business dealings. In the 25+ years Iâ€™ve been working in writing and marketing, Iâ€™ve been lucky â€“ Iâ€™ve very rarely faced outright hostility from other people. Iâ€™ve been shouted and sworn at a few times, but to be honest they were probably deserved.
My concern is that the confrontational climate of todayâ€™s politics will spill over into other areas of our lives. Instead, we all have a responsibility to be polite and respectful, to argue our points forcefully but based on evidence not prejudice, and to give other people the benefit of the doubt without judging.
In short, to be kind whenever we can.
I realise Iâ€™ve been blogging here now for more than seven years, and somehow, Iâ€™ve omitted to mention the self-help or business book which has had the biggest impact on me.
Itâ€™s an obvious choice, but â€˜Getting Things Doneâ€™ by David Allen is a classic.
The author has developed it into a whole industry nowadays, with training, stationery, and an online version. But theÂ original bookÂ stands up well, and is well worth reading. It’s genuinely improved my productivity and reduced my workplace stress, andÂ I use its methods every day.
I read aÂ really informative postÂ recently by a copywriter called Megan Rose, all about how to price your services as a freelance copywriter. Itâ€™s well worth a read, and has a long list of useful links at the end.
Itâ€™s a tricky subject, and I think many of us writers are a little embarrassed to bring it up with clients, but getting your price right is essential.
Going back to marketing theory, you can price your work based on its perceived value to the client, or based on your â€˜costsâ€™ (which means time for freelance writers), or you can benchmark against others (comparison pricing). Thereâ€™s also pricing by the word.
The consensus of other contributors to Meganâ€™s blog seems to be: donâ€™t under-value yourself, be flexible, and do your research to find out what the going rates are, when possible. Then get the price (and any other conditions) in writing, either a signed contract or failing that at least an email.
For me, I find quoting a fixed price for each job gives the best results both for the client and for myself â€“ they can see what theyâ€™re going to have to pay up-front, and I can quote a fair price (which is usually based on my estimate of how long the job will take â€“ or might be on a per-word basis). If we canâ€™t agree on a price, we know before any work is done or time wasted.
I last wrote about the technology I use as a writer about four years ago, and the basics still apply. Really, any modern laptop does the job nowadays, with a decent external keyboard and screen.
But Iâ€™m increasingly realising I need a new monitor. Being able to have multiple screens open side-by-side is essential as a copywriter â€“ at the very least, Iâ€™m writing up one source of information, so need that open next to my Word document. Increasingly, Iâ€™ve got multiple web pages and source documents open, so itâ€™s time to invest in something to replace my ageing 22-inch Samsung.
Will it pay for itself in the time I save? Possiblyâ€¦ over multiple years. But it will at least make the writing experience more enjoyable. Just as importantly, itâ€™ll stop me thinking about the monitor and moving windows around â€“ so I can just concentrate on the writing.
Iâ€™ve started doing some teaching recently, and this week ran a seminar on how to write better. When I was preparing my slides, naturally I wrote down all the good writing tips I wanted to get across. After the seminar, it struck me that there was a lot of different pieces of advice â€“ so how would I prioritise and decide what is the most important?
On reflection, I think Iâ€™d settle on â€˜be clearâ€™. If your reader canâ€™t understand what youâ€™re trying to tell them, nothing else really matters. And if itâ€™s too difficult for them to work out your point, theyâ€™ll probably give up.
A close second is â€˜use fewer wordsâ€™. Which, of course, generally helps you to be clear.
And inÂ Â third place Iâ€™d go for one of Orwellâ€™sÂ six rules of good writing, â€˜Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarousâ€™. Canâ€™t go wrong with that.
I donâ€™t usually just post a link to another personâ€™s blog post, but I found a really interesting piece today that seems too good to not share.
This postÂ on B2B marketing statistics is from Blue Corona, a web marketing company in the USA. Hats off to them, thereâ€™s some serious research gone into compiling all these statistics in one place. Itâ€™s refreshing to read a post thatâ€™s 100% focussed on B2B, and has lots of real, useful numbers.
Inevitably thereâ€™s a few claims and statistics that seem less grounded in reality, but thereâ€™s some great nuggets of information.
For example, by next year, the percentage of B2B search queries on smartphones is expected to grow to 70%.
Really? Well, Google has been telling us something similar for years, and now prioritizes mobile site results, so thereâ€™s probably something in it. And I guess if you include travel-related items like hotels and train tickets, the number probably makes more sense.
Anyway, it’s a thought-provoking post that’s well worth reading -Â and may challenge some of your ideas about B2B marketing.