Jan Fletcher reports:
"Is your small business growing? If so, it may be time to codify some workplace rules. Creating an employee handbook doesn’t ensure compliance, of course, but it can help to put everyone on the same page and also protect a small business owner from certain liabilities...Forget the jargon. Filling an employee handbook with legal terminology and oodles of fine print is no guarantee you’ll avoid disputes with your employees. That’s because labor law is complex: It’s impossible for a handbook to include verbiage that covers every potential legal issue that could arise. The point is to communicate, not legislate...Use a conversational tone, says Allen Price, CEO of First Third Sustainable Human Capital Consulting. For example, replace the word 'management' with 'we,' which adds a note of informality. In addition, offer examples that illustrate the standard of conduct you expect...Avoid Orwellian rules. Barbara Wanless of Eagle’s Flight, which specializes in experiential training, warns against stuffing handbooks with ridiculous rules such as 'no whispering.' When a handbook has more pages than the company’s operational manual, workplace morale plummets, she says...Define boundaries. Paul Downs, founder of Paul Downs Cabinetmakers, says he defined the boundaries between his company and his employees early on. He drafted a set of workplace rules and asked his attorney to vet them. New employees sign a receipt stating they’ve received a copy, and if the rules are later amended, the new version is distributed to everyone, he explains...Downs notes that enforcing handbook rules in a small business 'defends the integrity' of those who willingly comply...Include standards for digital conduct. Remember to address digital security issues for employees who work on-site and remotely. Decide who should have access to the company’s passwords, and describe the proper procedures for posting online content on behalf of the company, as well...Be sure to include company rules for surfing the web while on the job, and what can be said on behalf of the company on the web...Illustrate ethical quandaries. Your handbook should include a section on ethics. Offer a few narratives to help employees reflect on ethical issues, using illustrations that pertain to your business...Be fair, consistent, and clear in your expectations of employees. Draft your handbook with that mind and it will help you avoid problems and misunderstandings."
Kristine Tucker reports:
“If you're considering a career in fashion journalism, several job options require expertise in fashion and advanced writing skills. Any journalism occupation requires you to communicate ideas and facts in an interesting way. Fashion journalism focuses on design trends, beauty products and marketing strategies, [written] to appeal to image-conscious consumers. Depending on your particular interests and skills, you can find a job in fashion journalism that suits your style…With a degree in fashion journalism, you might consider a career as a fashion public relations specialist. This profession helps clothing companies, cosmetic industries and retail stores build strong public images, encouraging sales and consumer interest. Fashion public relations specialists don't pay for advertisements or media attention, so they must find innovative ways to solicit interest in products or brand names…Fashion public relations specialists often spend much of their time writing press releases and conducting press conferences to distribute fashion news through television, newspapers, radio, direct mail, social networking sites and Internet fashion websites. Generally, a bachelor's degree in fashion journalism or public relations is required…One of the most common occupations for a fashion journalist is a fashion writer. Fashion writers create content for magazines, websites, radio, television and newspapers. To gain a large reading audience, many fashion writers work with photographers to create pop culture content about designers, celebrities, athletes and fashion models. As an added perk, the job often involves interviewing high-profile celebrities. When you work as a fashion writer, you'll report to editors who review your content and make revisions for final publication. A college degree in fashion journalism or fashion merchandising is highly recommended for a career as a fashion writer…A fashion editor helps to create and produce fashion-related content for public distribution. Since fashion editors oversee writers' [work, they] need management and supervisory skills. To create the highest level of content, fashion editors often specialize in a particular field of interest…As a fashion editor, your job responsibilities include presenting fashion-related information in a creative way so readers will pay for magazine subscriptions or purchase beauty products. Many fashion editors have a bachelor's degree in fashion journalism, fashion design or fashion merchandising…If you have an interest in promoting beauty products, clothing and other fashion accessories, you might consider a job as a fashion marketer. Fashion marketers create advertising campaigns to increase public awareness, convincing consumers that they need to purchase certain products and particular brands. As a fashion marketer, you might spend part of your time analyzing statistics and evaluating consumer satisfaction reports to determine which products are most popular. Since the fashion industry is versatile and ever-changing, customers are often willing to try new products. Fashion marketers must also analyze age-related, gender-specific and socio-economic trends…Salary levels in fashion journalism vary depending on the job requirements and specific occupational titles. According to 2010 statistics reported by The Bureau of Labor Statistics, editors with a bachelor's degree in the field have an annual average salary of $51,500. Writers with a bachelor's degree earn an average annual salary of $55,400 and public relations managers or specialists have an average salary of $57,600 per year.”
Tia Benjamin reports:
“When issuing a warning to an employee, clearly define your expectations, as well as any consequences for noncompliance. Otherwise, your small business could face significant liability when disciplining or dismissing a problem worker. Courts have indicated that having a policy or handbook in place isn't always enough to constitute adequate notice to an employee of what defines acceptable behavior…Schedule a confidential meeting with the employee. Disciplinary action must never be conducted in public or in front of the employee's peers. Allow sufficient time for the meeting, and take steps to prevent interruptions…Inform the employee [up front] that she'll be given a warning. Describe the unsatisfactory or inappropriate behavior, and indicate the policy and procedures the behavior violated. Explain the impact that the employee's behavior had on the company and business operations…Provide an example of the type of behavior you expect the employee to demonstrate. State what the consequences will be if the behavior doesn't improve, such as further disciplinary action or termination from employment…Document your discussion. An email or ‘confirmation of discussion’ memo is sufficient to document a verbal warning, whereas a written warning is a formal letter to the employee, containing the full specifics of the discussion. For example, a written warning must contain the details of the incident or poor performance: when it occurred, how it came to the attention of management, and the impact of the incident on the company. State the policy that was violated, and provide a copy of the specific section as an attachment. The letter also must include the plan of action and resources to help the employee improve, as well as a warning about the consequences if the improvement isn't sustained…Issue the letter of warning or documentation of the meeting to the employee. Concurrently provide a performance improvement plan, if appropriate, to help the employee rehabilitate her behavior. Determine a date to meet with the employee again to review her performance…An employee may write a written rebuttal to the letter of warning and request that it be placed in her personnel file along with the warning. Include details of prior verbal warnings or directives given to the employee about the same issue…Don't forget to add details of the appeal or grievance procedure--if one exists--to the letter of warning. For example: ‘You may appeal this action within 10 calendar days, in accordance with the provisions outlined in the employee handbook, section 12 (attached).’”
Geeks On Finance reports:
"Not every purchase turns out to be a good deal. Many consumers choose to ask for a refund rather than absorbing the cost of a product or service that has been a disappointment. Whether you're asking for your money back for a bad product or for a course you couldn't attend, for example, state what you want from the company and why. Even if the situation does not require that the company issue a refund, your letter may help the company better maintain positive customer relations...Read the refund policy of the company or organization to which you plan to write. Look on the company's website for this information. It is possible that you need not write a letter or email to request your money back...If the refund policy is unclear or nonexistent, write your letter...Address your letter to the organization's customer service department. If you are unable to find the postal address or email address for this department, address your letter to the company in general and label it 'Attention: Customer Service.'...Explain what happened to lead you to request your money back...Include all relevant information including the date you purchased the item or registered for the course. Indicate that you are returning the item and include the item with your letter...Ask for a refund in plain language. If you do not specifically request a refund, the company may view your letter only as a complaint and take no action. Or, the company may offer you a different kind of compensation such as a discount off of a future purchase. Indicate how you would like to receive your refund, such as a credit to the credit card you originally used to purchase the item...Close the letter with a polite closing phrase such as 'Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. I look forward to your response.'...Sign the letter and include your complete contact information, including phone number, address and email address...Send the letter and the product, if necessary, to the company. Follow up two weeks later if you have not received a response."
Melissa Donovan reports:
"Doesn’t it seem like the best writing ideas come at the most inconvenient times?...If your idea light bulb likes to shine while your hands are tied or when you’re away from your usual writing tools, then I have some tips to help you make sure you don’t lose your most creative writing ideas...Mini-Notebooks: They’re cheap and small enough to stash everywhere: on your nightstand, in your purse, pocket, car, or desk drawer at work. Keep a pen or pencil with each one. Just make sure you don’t jot anything down while driving. It only takes a couple of minutes to pull over, write down your notes, and be back on your way...Keeping a voice recorder on you at all times is another great way to make sure that no matter where you are (or what you’re doing), you have a way to record your writing ideas. Perfect for the car, a recorder is an ideal way to get a little writing done or capture your most brilliant thoughts. Writers have used mini-cassette recorders for years, but now digital recorders are plentiful and affordable. Plus, many [smartphones] and mp3 players now come with voice recording capabilities...If you’re stuck somewhere without a notebook, then just give yourself a call. As long as you have access to a phone, you can leave yourself a voicemail and make sure that your best writing ideas don’t disappear among the millions of thoughts you’re having during the day. Plus, you can call your mobile phone, home phone, or work phone!...By setting aside a bulletin board, basket, box, or other container, you will have a place to deposit your scraps and scribbles. This will help you stay organized and you’ll always know where to look when you’re trying to dig up one of your latest, greatest writing ideas...[M]ost of the time a pen is all you really need. There are materials to write on just about everywhere and in a pinch...If you have your trusty pen on your person, you probably won’t have to look too long or far for something to write on. You might want to go with a [s]harpie[,] though; it will open up a whole new world of writing surfaces, like thick cardboard boxes, but hey — stay away from bathroom walls! Most writers have lost dozens if not hundreds of writing ideas just because they had a stroke of genius at a most inopportune time. But that doesn’t have to happen to you. As long as you’re prepared at all times, your writing ideas will stay safe and sound!"
Akeia Dixon reports:
"Putting together a monthly budget...is the first step towards taking control of your finances...In any case, creating a monthly budget is extremely beneficial. Although it may seem trivial, it's important to take the necessary steps when writing down your monthly budget; otherwise you may leave something out...List all sources of income that you expect for each month of the year. Make sure that you include months where you expect a bonus from your employer or monetary gifts for a special event in your life. Keep your list of income sources in one column in the event that another source comes into [the] picture...List your expected expenses for each month of the year in another column. Include bi-annual, quarterly and annual expenses such as car insurance and life insurance as well as property tax or any additional expenses that may not come every month. Add a small amount as an expense for savings...Categorize all of your household expenses (mortgage or rent and utilities) in one category followed by the transportation expenses (insurance, gas and maintenance) in another category. Other categories include recreational activities and health insurance; also list health expenses, such as prescription costs and co-payments for doctor's visits...Label each item as variable or fixed. If an item is fixed, the amount stays the same every month or every payment and is usually something that is a necessity. Items that are variables can fluctuate between months and can be adjusted if you need to do so...Calculate all of your income and expenses and compare the amounts in each category. If your expenses exceed your income, then it's time to take a look at your variable expenses and start deducting what you can. Remove or reduce the expense of any item or activity that isn't needed."
Staton Rabin reports:
“There’s really no such thing as a children’s film or a kids’ book. There are just good movies and bad movies, good books and badly written books. And that is the most important secret of writing movies or books that children, tweens, or teens can enjoy…There is no difference between writing a book or movie for adults and writing one ‘for’ children — except that, in the latter, a child or teen is usually (not always) the main character. Ask any successful author who writes books or movies marketed mainly to children or teens. They will tell you that they don’t write ‘for’ young people. Pay attention to Pixar’s movies if you want to know how to write scripts that respect children’s intelligence and appeal to entire families and not just ‘the kiddies.’…Remember that most scripts that get optioned or sold in the children’s or ‘family film’ category are based on successful franchises…If your script is children’s fantasy material and it’s not based on an already-proven best-seller, you may have a difficult time selling it…Too many writers ‘dash off’ something aimed at kids or teens without having seen any movies of this kind in the past 20 years. You have to know what kids today are interested in, and what sells. For example, if you write a straightforward old-fashioned fairy tale, without even the slightest trace of humor, hipness, or irony, you will have a tough time selling it in today’s marketplace…In general, don’t bother writing animated feature films unless you’re also an excellent director/filmmaker of animated films with a reel to show...[Y]our chances of selling your own, original, animated feature film script (as opposed to writing animation for TV or direct-to-video), if you aren’t also a proven writer or director of animated films, are extremely low. Yes, it’s a bit of a catch-22 in terms of how to break into this field. But if you have any artistic savvy, or know someone who does, you might explore some of the excellent animation software on the market…Don’t copy other successful family or children’s films…The purpose of a movie ‘for’ children should not be to teach them how to behave better. In some sense, all great movies do have a message that makes us better human beings. But that message is subtle and in the subtext, not forced upon unwilling audiences…If you don’t know what’s going on in the lives of children or teens today, find out. Research what young people care about the same way you would if you were writing instead about Ebola virus, tree kangaroos in New Guinea, or rocket launches by NASA…If you’re not ‘hip,’ don’t try to write snarky dialogue for children or teens. And avoid slang, which changes frequently anyway. Write about nerdy kids and teens…Even if you are not writing only ‘for’ children or teens, you still need to know who will be coming to see your movie, just as you do when writing any other kind of script…Any movie ‘for’ kids or teens that doesn’t also entertain adults will probably ‘bomb’ at the box office…[K]eep in mind that there’s no such thing as a hit feature film whose main audience is 2-year-olds. If you’re writing for this market, you will probably be writing for TV or direct-to-video…Don’t censor your writing for kids or teens. Don’t shy away from writing about challenging or serious topics, or using big words. Write honestly. It is possible to tackle any subject responsibly in a movie for kids. Even The Wizard of Oz dealt with the fact that evil and death exist in the world. How can you show what it means to be a moral person if you can’t show what evil is?...Please don’t write anything ‘cute.’ Write something human and real…I’ve held my ground to keep things in my books that I felt were emotionally honest and true to the characters and situations, but perhaps slightly risqué, ‘adult,’ or emotionally challenging for children, by some people’s standards. I’ve never regretted those decisions and I’ve never received any letters from parents or kids who were upset by anything in any of my books.”
Erin Crum reports:
“When writing a letter to a judge or to the court, it is essential to address the letter professionally in a formal matter…Regardless of the purpose, it is important to always maintain a polished tone in every piece of correspondence with the court…In the top left line, include the date you are writing the letter. Spell out the month, add the numerical day and put a comma in front of the year…Leave one blank line of space below the date and then type your name and address on the left. Put the name of your business under your name and above the address if the letter is business-related. Include your mailing address, including city, state, suite or apartment number (if applicable) and ZIP code…Leave one blank line of space below your name and address and type the name of the judge or the name of a member of the court staff for whom your letter is intended. If you are sending the letter to a judge, the words ‘The Honorable’ are always used before her name. On the next line below the name, include the name of the court in which the judge presides, such as ‘San Francisco Superior Court’ or ‘United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.’ Directly under the name, include the judge's address, city, state and ZIP code. If you are sending the letter to a member of the court staff, use a proper title, such as Mr., before his name. If you do not have the name of a specific person, use the title listed on any paperwork you have received from the court. If you are still unsure, you may use ‘Clerk of Court,’ ‘Court Clerk’ or ‘Jury Commissioner.’…Leave one blank line of space below the name and address of the letter's recipient. If the letter is intended for a judge, type ‘Dear Judge (Last name):’ and include a colon after the judge's name. If you are addressing it to a member of the court staff, type ‘Dear Ms. Smith:’ and include a colon after the person's name. If you are addressing the letter generally, type ‘Dear Clerk of Court:’ and include a colon after the last word…Leave one blank line after the opening address to the judge or member of the court staff before the body of the letter…Include one blank line of space between each paragraph. End the letter professionally, such as ‘Sincerely’ or ‘With regards’ and a comma. Before sitting down to write your letter, have all important documents that you need to support your letter. It may be necessary to request some documents or information from a CPA or accountant in advance. Save a copy of the letter for your future reference. Never send original documents, such as sales contracts, insurance policies and invoices, unless required by the court…Be sure to use a professional tone in the letter…Include all of the necessary information, but try to keep the letter as brief as possible.”
"Severe competition has become a key element of the present-day world. All types of business run off their legs to attract new clients and expand the customer base. However, it is not infrequent that the return on such investment is low, while the cost of implementing such encouraging programs is high. It is much cheaper to keep the old clients and build up their loyalty as they return again and again to pay for the goods and services from the company they trust and value. Continuous seeking for a new customer is not of economic benefit. It is, actually, from six to seven times more costly than cultivating the devotion of existing clients. Anyone who feels appreciated tends to display more loyalty, spend more and share the information about the company they like so much with their friends and acquaintances. It is obvious that there are a number of branding and marketing reasons [to] aspire [to] the customer loyalty and not to let your clients drift over to the competitors...There are four simple steps to make if you want to encourage loyalty from the customers in the field of business writing...Those clients who make little orders on a regular basis should be as important for you as those who spend a lot of money occasionally. They return to your company again and again showing their interest in your services and appreciation [for] the quality of work you do. It is very likely that when such customers have a big business writing project, they will give it to you as they are confident about your professionalism. Turn a small returning customer into a backbone of your business and you will be amazed at the consequences...Make the clients believe that they are special...There should be some added value that the customers can get except the service they pay for...If the company makes the client feel that what they request...is wrong or ridiculous, that person will never come back to get some other goods or services. Even if the customer asks for extra pages of writing for free, they deserve [a] respectful attitude and proper explanations...The clients have made their choice to place an order at your writing service, and they expect this relationship to last for a certain period of time without any problems or misunderstandings. Do whatever is possible to help the customers avoid any pressure or worries[.]"
Trade Magazine Writing Tips
Anne Wayman reports:
“A trade magazine is a magazine written for members [of] an organization or a particular industry or trade. In contrast, consumer magazines are much more broadly focused and have a potentially much larger audience. For example, you won’t find a magazine aimed at the plumbing industry at the newsstand in your local supermarket, although you might find articles about plumbing in several magazines there…The reason to write for trade magazines is [twofold]: For the most part they are more open to new writers than consumer magazines. And trade magazines often pay at least as well, and sometimes more[,] as many consumer magazines. For example, according to Writer’s Market[,] HPAC pays 25 cents a word – not a fortune, but better than content mills. Something called AeroSafty World pays up to $1,500 for a feature. Plumbing and airplanes not your thing? How about horses, or hospital, or houses or… chances are if you can think of it there’s at least one trade magazine for it…Writer’s Market lists literally hundreds of trade magazines. In fact it has a whole category called Trade Magazines. Another approach is to simply google trade magazines. That search will bring up various directories of the publications. Some are better than others, but looking at some of the directories will give you a feel for the wide variety of trade magazines available. It also works to search for a specific industry or topic…You can also find trades by asking for them where you shop. Yes, there are trades for supermarkets, specialty markets, coffee, tea, gifts, retail, clothing – the lists just go on…Don’t overlook organizations and clubs…If you find a trade you’re interested in through a market listing there will probably be instructions on how to get a sample copy. Many trade publishers will be happy to send you an issue or two for free. Just pick up the phone and ask. You’ve got to get at least one copy or you’ll not be clear on what the magazine wants. As usual, if you find a current market listing[,] follow the instructions about queries and submissions. However, there are a ton of trades out there without market listings. In that case, send a query by email or snail mail. If [your] idea is accepted[,] make sure [you’re] clear on how much you’ll be paid and when you’ll be paid before you accept the assignment. Not all trades pay or pay well and most of them don’t have market listings. You may be able to find out if they pay and roughly how much on the magazine’s website, but often you’ll have to ask. Again, you can pick up the phone or you can take time to go through the query process…You don’t have to be an expert in the field to successfully sell to a trade magazine. You will have to figure out something to say to the readers, but an article on what a consumer really wants from her plumber could work. Read at least one issue of the magazine and let your mind soar. Not so by the way, credits in trade magazines are golden. It’s not unusual at all for a writer to move from trade to consumer. If you want to write for publications, trades are a great way to go.”
Writing and editing can be pretty rigorous processes if you want to do them well, but that's what this page is here for. Check out the latest tips here.