Making the good sell

This week, I finished writing the copy for my soon-to-be-launched website.

As I composed the text, I couldn’t help but notice how challenging it is to write about yourself. When I’m writing about clients (e.g. creating their online bios), it’s much easier for some reason. I guess it’s because I’m being paid to make them sound as accomplished as possible – embellishing and “bragging” is highly permitted! When I’m writing about myself, I’m conscious about not sounding too full of myself. Sure, you want to sound competent and qualified but it’s important not to overdo it so you don’t sound arrogant or egotistical.

Sometimes it’s better to let other people do the boasting which is why I’ve included testimonials from clients and former colleagues who know me best. It’s lovely seeing so many compliments in writing but editing the text? That’s quite a task also. How can you possibly amend copy that is singing your praises? FYI – I wound up using the most relevant information and dividing other comments into snippets to place throughout the site.

When it comes to writing about yourself, always have your resume handy (or your LinkedIn profile). Both help to refresh your memory about past work experience and accomplishments.

Another aspect of writing about yourself is that in the end, you feel pretty darn good reviewing everything you’ve accomplished in your still-growing career. When you’re living it, you don’t always have time to observe all that you’re doing for your clients or to let their happy reactions sink in. It’s always on to a new project.

So, freelancers, be sure to take time to appreciate your successful projects and don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

Freelance is the real deal

Last week I went on an interview for a potential freelance writing gig working for a large organization in Manhattan. I must say, I was impressed with the whole process. I wound up meeting with 3 different executives during an interview that lasted 90 minutes.

The experience reminded me a lot of job interviews I’ve had for staff positions. For anyone who thinks that freelance status pales in comparison to full-time work, think again. Employers take the role very seriously.

As a freelance employee, you’re required to learn and take on the voice of prominent companies. You need to learn their brand, their mission and their values. What are they all about?

If you’re a staff member, you live the brand every day through regular internal communication. Freelancers enter an organization to work on short-term projects with the hope that they will turn into long-term ones.

That’s why my freelance tip of the day is GET TO KNOW THE COMPANY YOU’RE TRYING TO FREELANCE WITH.

A seasoned freelancer will know this but many people don’t. They think relying on their resume and skills alone is enough. In reality, you need to do your homework. When it does come to your skills, you need to be able to specifically apply them to the role you’ll be filling. For example, if you’re a writer like me, you need to make sure your skills are a fit for the particular communications channel (and industry) the employer has in mind.

Another helpful hint: the more show and tell you bring to an interview, the better. A resume is all well and good but interviewers appreciate if they have something they can take away from the interview. In my case, it was several writing samples I printed off the web. Sure you can send people links but there’s nothing like holding someone’s writing in your hand. You’re leaving a little piece of yourself behind.

As freelancers, it’s important to keep in mind that we have what many bosses don’t have enough of: time. We can offer them a respite from endless multi-tasking and overflowing calendars. And working on a project basis makes us more affordable than salaried employees with benefits, not to mention paying overtime.

Freelancers are an attractive part of the work force, now more than ever!

 

Allow me to introduce myself…

If you’re going to make it as a freelancer, you have to have a pair of balls (even if you’re a woman). You can’t be afraid to take risks. Well that’s exactly what I did in April, 2006: I left a cozy, staff position at a major NYC live events/production company to make it on my own.

Without bombarding you with all the details (you can read more about the experience here), I will say that it was one of the best moves I’ve ever made. Sure, there have been some ups and downs, but that hasn’t stopped me from feeling liberated ever since.

I was reminded of this two nights ago when I attended a former colleague’s film screening in Manhattan. She told me how she admired me to have the guts to up and leave the company when I saw that I had reached my ceiling.

Okay, enough back-patting. Here’s my background in a nutshell. I’m a writer (obviously!) with a BA in Communications from Hofstra University. I started out as a local journalist in Brooklyn, then took on some cool TV gigs (CBS Sports and Lifetime Television), followed by a 6-year stint at the aforementioned production company (MJM Creative Services). And then: hello, freelance.

As a freelancer these past 7.5 years, I’ve had the chance to shoot and produce promotional and training videos for multiple clients in New York, London and Chicago. I’ve covered communications conferences across the globe at the corporate headquarters of some of the biggest brands in the world. I’ve filmed some of the most engaging people to work the speaker circuit in a long time including a top forensic psychologist who’s analyzed the likes of Joel Rifkin and James Holmes.

And of course, my longest stint: as a writer-turned-global editor at simply-communicate.com – the London-based knowledge and advice site for corporate communication professionals. I had the chance to delve inside big-name companies on both sides of the pond, exposing the inner workings of Verizon, IBM, Philips, Heineken and LEGO to name a few. I was even invited to cover a town hall at Best Buy in Minnesota amid troubling times for the electronics retail giant. Kelly_BestBuyHQ

I helped simply become more US-centric and we even opened a New York office which I oversaw while dabbling in project management and communications consulting projects. I even took the plunge and went staff again (at least for a little while). Then it was back to freelance after the company experienced financial challenges and restructuring.

So here I am: writing, hustling, networking, schmoozing in between Starbucks’ runs and happy hour rants with friends in the same boat.

I hope my blog will inspire others who are trying to make a dent in the concrete pavements of New York or at least help people to commiserate through it all. This isn’t an easy city to live – or work – in. But I’ve been doing it all my life, and with any luck, I’ll continue to do so for years to come.

You can follow me on Twitter at @KelKass and sample some of my writing clips at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=9432813&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile