The Art of the Headline: “Voodoo sex ceremony starts fatal fire, officials say” – CNN.com”

Posted February 27, 2011 by charleshurwitz
Categories: For writers

If the headline above won’t get you to read the story then you have a serious problem. In one short sentence it combines sex, religion, death and fire. What more can you ask for?
Let’s face it we all hope that someone will read, with interest, what we have wrote. Even if the audience is one person for say, regulatory documents or you’re going for a larger audience with marcom material, you don’t want to feel that you are completely wasting your time.
Headlines (or headings) should serve two purposes; convey what information is in the section and make the reader feel that it might interest them. Keep in mind however that the headline style must be appropriate to who the audience is. There are headlines that are appropriate for the New York Post and headlines for the New England Journal of Medicine.

Marketing Yourself As a Freelance Writer

Posted January 3, 2011 by charleshurwitz
Categories: Uncategorized

Let’s face it if most of us freelancers really enjoyed marketing we’d be in Marketing not it in writing. Makes sense, no? But if we want to feed ourselves and our families we have to constantly be on the lookout for new clients. And here let me add that those of you who think that you are all set because you have one big client who keeps you busy all the time, may be in for a rude awakening. I would prefer to be making a little less money with several clients than more money with one big client. A freelance relationship by its very nature means that your big client can drop you tomorrow with no prior notice suddenly drying up your income and we all know that little Suzie isn’t interested in hearing that she has to stop her ballet lessons because Daddy’s (or Mommy’s) big client pulled the plug. The time between when you start to look for a new client and when actual money enters your bank account from this new client can be several months.
The only way to overcome our aversion to marketing is to set aside several hours per week for marketing and not compromising on this point.
What do I mean by marketing? I don’t mean cold-calling. I do mean setting up a web site if you don’t already have one, or maintaining one that you already have. If you are a writer it is a minimum that you have a web site. There is no excuse for not having one. I also mean doing web searches for likely clients or outsourcing companies and contacting them. I also mean considering setting up a professional blog, working on your CV, registering with LinkdIn and putting an ad in Google AdWords or similar services. If some of these things cost money, so be it. The amount of money that you can make from one serious client will pay all your marketing costs for several years.
Finally, if you’re looking for just one book to teach you about sales I recommend Soft Selling in a Hard World by Jerry Vaas. It deals with the types of clients who would be buying our services and also has lots of concrete examples.

Two Ways to Build Up Your Portfolio Without Feeling Exploited

Posted November 11, 2010 by charleshurwitz
Categories: Uncategorized

As I discussed in a previous post to find work as a freelancer you need to have a portfolio. To have a portfolio you need to work. Kind of a problem. I gave several suggestions for building up your portfolio without having to work for internet companies that pay poorly and probably won’t contribute much useful material to your portfolio anyway. Here are two more:
Go to a site where you can download freeware or shareware (there are lots of them) and find a program that looks interesting. Check to see if they have any documentation. It is usually very weak or non-existent. Contact the developers and volunteer to document the product. I doubt if they will say no. You will then have a complete manual (or helpfile) for your portfolio. Believe me no one interviewing you for a job will ask you if you were paid to write the manual, and it doesn’t really matter.
The second option is site called www.ifixit.com. Here you can help your fellowman by documenting a repair procedure and posting it. See the site for details.
 

Napping–Another Advantage To Working at Home

Posted October 21, 2010 by charleshurwitz
Categories: Uncategorized

Why Companies Should Insist that Employees Take Naps – Tony Schwartz

2:08 PM Monday September 20, 2010 | Comments (75)

Good luck, right?

But here’s the reality: naps are a powerful source of competitive advantage. The recent evidence is overwhelming: naps are not just physically restorative, but also improve perceptual skills, motor skills, reaction time and alertness.

I experienced the power of naps myself when I was writing my new book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.

I wrote at home, in the mornings, in three separate, highly focused 90 minute sessions. By the time I finished the last one, I was usually exhausted — physically, mentally and emotionally. I ate lunch and then took a 20 to 30 minute nap on a Barcalounger chair, which I bought just for that purpose.

When I awoke, I felt incredibly rejuvenated. Where I might otherwise have dragged myself through the afternoon, I was able to focus effectively on work other than writing until 7 pm or so, without feeling fatigued.

via Why Companies Should Insist that Employees Take Naps – Tony Schwartz – Harvard Business Review.

There you have it. Who can argue with the Harvard Business School? What’s next? drinking beer and lying on the couch for 1/2 the day also boosts productivity?

I have a couch in my home office and I usually nap every day for about 1/2 hour. Any more than that and I feel kind of dopey when I wake up. I definitely feel refreshed and am able to work longer following a nap.
Those of us who have dogs or cats know that they spend probably 20 hours a day sleeping and look how productive they are. Wait maybe that’s not such a good example.

Is This You? – People Who Work From Home Are Targets for Favors – WSJ.com

Posted September 28, 2010 by charleshurwitz
Categories: For writers

I recently came across this article:
People Who Work From Home Are Targets for Favors – WSJ.com.

Is this you?
Do you sometimes feel that people think that because you are at home that means that you aren’t working and are available for their missions?
How do I get around this problem? First of all I have no problem saying “no” if it really doesn’t fit into my plans. After all would I call somebody up at their place of work and ask them to run out and do me a favor? On the other hand I think that it is important to exploit the advantages of working from home and setting your own hours. One of these advantages is that you can help out friends family and community.
Second, if people ask me about my work I explain to them that my work involves a certain amount of traveling, so I’m not always at home and therefore not always available for missions.

Review of hideipvpn.com to Hide Your IP Address

Posted August 26, 2010 by charleshurwitz
Categories: Uncategorized

Those of us living outside the US and Europe are sometimes blocked from accessing sites that we may want to access. One way to get around this and also to ensure anonymity when browsing is through the use of IP blocking software. I was recently provided with temporary use of hideipvpn to write a review. Here it is:

How hard is it to set up?
It was very straightforward to set up. Speaking as a technical communicator the instructions were clear and easy to follow.

Is it hard to connect and disconnect?
Not at all. You connect and disconnect as you would for any other internet connection.

Is it legal?
Although I am not a lawyer from what I understand it is legal. There is no law stating that you have to show your IP, it is like blocking your phone number from caller ID

Does it work?
Yes it certainly does. I confirmed this by first of all going to a site that you can use to look up IPs and it showed my IP as being in LA California USA, I then went into Google News and in the local news section instead of Israel it gave me news from Seattle. Finally I signed into a site whose access is blocked to IPs outside the USA and I was able to enter.

Third, does it slow your browsing?
Yes it does. I went to a site that checks your browsing speed and checked with the hidden IP and with my normal IP. The download speed of the hidden was slightly half that of my normal IP. The upload speed of the hidden IP was slightly slower. I repeated the test three times and got similar results each time.To be honest in normal browsing and streaming I didn’t notice any difference.

For additional details about the product see http://www.hideipvpn.com.

How Many of Your Clients Have You Actually Met?

Posted August 26, 2010 by charleshurwitz
Categories: For writers

How many of your clients have you met? I got to thinking of this question because I recently made an unexpected trip outside of Israel for two weeks. I took my laptop with me and left my cellphone on, and I can honestly tell you that except for clients who I told that I wasn’t in the country, no one would have known. For technical writing there is usually a real need to meet the client. For documenting hardware this is a must and for software it is generally helpfully to get a face to face explanation. In the medical writing world, however I have not actually met many of my clients. It is usually sufficient that they send me material and we speak on the phone. I spoke to a colleague of mine in the States in the medical regulatory field and she said that she estimates that she has actually met only about 5% of her clients. In Israel, probably because the country is so small and about half of it is sparsely populated desert it is expected that you should have at least one face to face with the client.
To tell you the truth I prefer it this way. If I don’t get out of my home office at least a couple times a week I go stir crazy and it is also interesting to visit new companies and meet new people. I also think that projects generally go smoother and you are more likely to get additional projects if the client has a face to attach to your e-mail address and phone number.


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