Working off-site is frowned upon by some companies, who insist on the "security" of having someone sitting across the room. But this antiquated mindset limits your talent pool severely. And for most writers, you SHOULD let them work off-site. And here's why.
It's a solo pursuit.
Writers are creative people. Even the most analytical writer spends a lot of time in his or her brain figuring out what to write, what to omit, how to say it best, etc. So the reality is that writing is a solo activity. And that means we need lots of solo time to produce great material. And honestly, offices can be a big distraction.
We gather information, then run with it.
Once we gather our information from SMEs or other resources, we don't need to interact with people much anymore. We only need to circle back when a question arises, a draft is ready for review, or a status update is required. Most of what we do from that point on is just sit down and write. And this can be done anywhere.
I find that in most projects I spend about 10-15% of my time interacting with people. This might be through SME interviews, review cycles, or project status updates. I spent many a year in corporate America at my computer, in my cubicle, writing all day...and not interacting with anyone unless it was for some water cooler chat.
Did it really matter that I was sitting in the office? Not really. I could have easily done the same thing remotely and saved the company some overhead.
We need a creative environment.
Which brings me to point number three: We need an environment that allows us to be creative. For many of us creativity doesn't come within office walls, meeting interruptions, or standard 8-5 hours. Sometimes writers need the freedom to stop and do something else, then come back to the project. Sometimes writers work best in the middle of the night while the candle burns. It all depends on the individual.
For me, I need access to a window. I need an environment that isn't sterile or cubed in. I need to have my cat purring on my lap while I work, which is what she's doing now. I need the freedom to stop when my brain is tired, and start again when it's ready to go. Because sometimes you just run out of juice and need the freedom to stop so that you can come back and polish your work into something spectacular.
Does this mean I watch TV all day? No. I turn the TV on during lunch for about 10 minutes, and back to work I go. Working off-site just means I have the flexibility to work in a way that allows me to produce my best material. And my work environment isn't dictated by someone else who isn't in my brain.
You will find better employees if you are open to off-site work.
I think the most important thing to remember is that work ethic determines how hard you work, not physical location. So I would advise companies to focus more on finding candidates with a good work ethic rather than candidates who can be on-site all the time.
I sometimes see jobs posted indefinitely because the work location is a bit off the map, but the client insists the candidate be on-site. The result? They don't get any work done, the job sits open, and they lose out on good talent when someone like me could come in and knock it out.
So if you're ready to re-examine off-site consultants or employees, start looking! There is so much talent out there, ready to work hard and knock those projects out of the ballpark. And it's a great ROI for your business to hire the best person you can, regardless of their physical location.
How many of your visitors are viewing your website through a mobile device? If your website isn't optimized for mobile viewing, you may be losing customers.
Do I Really Need to Optimize?
Yes! These days it isn't enough to have a website that displays beautifully on the web.
With the invention of smart phones and tablets, more and more people are viewing web pages on a device other than a computer. And those devices don't have a mouse, can't display Flash, and don't have the screen real estate of a regular computer.
Have you ever tried to view a non-optimized website on your tiny smartphone screen? How easy is it to click links, read text, and use the functionality? Not very.
How Many Mobile Users Are Out There?
If you haven't checked in a while (which I hope isn't the case), take a look at your site visitors and what technology they are using. Roughly one third of my visitors view my site from a mobile device. And depending on the industry you're in, you may have even more.
Let's put this into a real-life scenario. Let's pretend your website doesn't have a mobile version yet.
...and that's only if your mobile viewing percentage is at 10 percent! What if your website mobile viewing is at 40 or 50 percent? At 50 percent you may have lost 1500 potential customers.
Good Mobile Optimization vs. Bad
So you've got your website set to display on a mobile device. Great! Have you gone through this checklist of common issues?
Bottom line: Your website needs to cater to the mobile viewing trend, or you're bound to lose out. If you've built your website using a tool that doesn't automatically create a mobile version (or simply don't have a developer to help you), look online for assistance. There are many tools available to create a customized mobile version of your site, or many companies that can be hired to do it for you.
How many times have you gotten the job because you followed up at just the right time? Do you have a good system in place to remember all of those people who you needed to circle back with? If not, consider a CRM application.
What Is a CRM Application?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. To put it shortly, it's an application that helps you manage your current and potential customer base. You can use it to manage your marketing efforts, your relationships, your conversion data, your contact information, and even your internal team and how they distribute work.
Why Should I Use One?
CRM applications are typically used by sales teams in established businesses and organizations to work their pipeline, maintain connections with prospects, and track conversions. They also use them to report out data as needed.
But I believe a sole proprietor or small business needs the same level of efficiency and organization if they want to be successful. The great part about a CRM tool is that you don't have to purchase all the parts you don't need. And it doesn't have to be expensive.
I have had great success with Salesforce.com, so I'll be touting that one in particular here. For only $5/month I get functionality that lets me manage all of my new and prospective clients, make notes on marketing efforts, schedule follow-up activities, document projects, and run reports. And it's all stored on the cloud. So if my computer dies, my contacts (and the lifeblood of my business) live on.
A Day in the Life of a CRM'd Sole Proprietor
So how do I put my CRM application to use? For every new person I interact with that is either providing me business or could provide it in the future, I create an account that links that contact with any others related to it. I enter their job title, email, phone, cell phone, address, website, you name it. I then create a note about our interaction, and copy any relevant email text into the record that I might want to remember.
Once that's done, I set tasks for myself. And I do this everyday for both new and existing contacts depending on what happens in my business.
The beauty is that when when I log in everyday, all of my tasks are conveniently listed for me by date without me having to think about anything. Everything I need to do for that day is right there, and I can click on it to view more details and review the history on the account. It's like an instant refresher, and it allows me to follow up in a more personal way.
Where to Get a CRM
I highly recommend Salesforce.com. For contact management for up to 5 users it's only $5/month. Plus it's web-based, easy to use, and has just enough functionality to help you manage your clients. If you want a little more functionality you can go up to the $25/month package. It goes up from there depending on your needs and how many people you want to be able to use it.
Sound good? It works well for me. Click here to view Salesforce.com's pricing information, and welcome to the world of CRMs!
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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