Highlights, End of 2015

Happy New Year to all of you! The cold has settled in the Middle Atlantic states, and I am chugging along on some time-intensive projects that require me to move back and forth between The Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS) and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Despite this ping-pong match between CMoS and APA, I am enjoying all of the work this new year brings.


Projects I worked on at the end of 2015 include:

  • Copyediting a journal on music education and a journal on Polish studies.
  • Editing a dissertation for a doctoral candidate in education.
  • Supporting a volume editor edit references and request permissions for a large-scale health textbook.
  • Reviewing marketing emails and blog posts for a graphic designer and lifestyle expert.
  • Compiling a handbook for a professional organization.
  • Writing articles for Healthline.

 

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And, in case you missed it, check out my recent blog post on the fabulous new coffee mugs I’ll be drinking from in the new year.

My New Year’s Advice to You

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As you compile your list of business and personal goals to begin a fresh new year, I advise you to commit to one big (yet small) resolution:

Pick deadlines and stick to them.

I’ve been an editor and writer for more than a decade. Before that I was a great student. And you know what the biggest marker of my success has been both professionally and personally? Meeting deadlines.

Sounds easy for some, I am sure. Sounds insanely difficult for others, I bet. But if you want to accomplish anything, creating goals (with dates attached) should be your number-one measurement tool.

In publishing, final products come to be because of a series of small deadlines. Here’s what a typical production schedule looks like:

  • Content submitted.
  • Content edited/copyedited.
  • Content reviewed by author.
  • Content submitted to production.
  • Content formatted by production.
  • Content proofread by proofreader and/or author.
  • Content published.

These steps can take a day, a week, a month, or even a year, depending on the nature of the final product. But microdeadlines are essential to keeping the project moving. (You may also need an editor to get on your tail sometimes. I am the person for that job!)

So start that blog and commit to posting every week (or more). Redo your website and come up with a production schedule you can follow. Begin writing that long-imagined book and meet with a publishing expert who can help you come up with a workflow. Just do it.

You may be a procrastinator, but if you want to accomplish something big in 2016, pull out your calendar, map out your year, and get to work. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

I’ll be back in January with tips on beginning a writing project.

Gifts for a Freelance Editor and Writer

When your wife/sister/sister-in-law’s occupation is sitting at a desk reading long documents of text or writing snappy articles for the web, what do you give her?

Awesome mugs, of course!

Thanks to my family, here are a few additions to my collection:

No matter how early the morning or the pile of work to be done, these mugs will bring me joy and inspiration in the new year.

It’s wonderful to take a pause in our lives and workloads to celebrate with family and friends. I am back to editing this morning (copyediting a Polish-centered academic journal), but the time away from the computer in the last few days has been welcome.

Wishing you a happy new year. See you in 2016!

Client Profile: The Kolbe Fund

logo smallA few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Kate Schnittman, founder and executive director of The Kolbe Fund. Kate and I share mutual friends and colleagues through our networking group, and I was so pleased to finally get to know her better and contribute to the good work of The Kolbe Fund.

Kate and her husband started The Kolbe Fund after receiving such amazing care and support from their family and friends (and strangers) when their son, Max, was diagnosed with a brain tumor four years ago. They wanted to pay it forward and help provide lodging to families in financial need who must travel for critical pediatric care.

In just two years, The Kolbe Fund has provided more than 1,000 nights of lodging for families. This is a remarkable number, and it serves as a testament to Kate’s hard work and can-do attitude.

Kate-3I had the opportunity to contribute to The Kolbe Fund by helping Kate draft some imperative communication for her donor list. Over just a few days, Kate and I worked through her ideas and created copy she could use and send without much investment of her time. (Can you guess that she’s getting busier and busier with the success of this organization?!) I was so happy to give Kate a little stress relief, and working with this organization meant a lot to me too.

If you are considering donating to charities during this holiday season (or during #GivingTuesday), please keep The Kolbe Fund in mind.

 

Highlights, Early Fall

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A recent snapshot of what I do while I work. Thank goodness for warm, comforting beverages!

In my neck of the woods, it’s beginning to feel like that magical holiday season. Trees are bare, the wind is starting to gust, and my children are singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on repeat. And it’s not even Thanksgiving!

I’ve had a successful run of projects this fall, and I can’t wait to share more of the finished products on my Facebook feed. Consider following me if you aren’t already!


My recent work includes:

  • Proofreading a book on the Christmas virtues (it got me thinking about all of my favorite traditions way back in September);
  • Copyediting a manuscript on spirituality for medical professionals, a journal on animal ethics, and a journal on music education;
  • Editing and writing content for small business websites (clients include a marketing company, a Realtor, a fitness studio, a life coach, a video production company, and a graphic designer);
  • Researching and compiling educational tools for a large medical publisher;
  • Drafting a solicitation letter for a nonprofit organization; and
  • Writing articles for Healthline.

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And here’s my public service announcement for those of you sending holiday cards (via Slate). This post reached thousands through my Facebook page, and it’s a good reminder of how to pluralize your last name.

I hope you enjoy these final weeks of 2015!

Now Writing for Healthline

I wanted to share that I’ve been writing for Healthline, a web resource for health and wellness topics, since June.

Here’s some of my latest work:

If you need a professional writer to tackle a topic for your website, blog, newsletter, or other publication, look no further. I love to help capture the ideas bouncing around the heads of my clients and put them into a coherent written document. Contact me for more information about my writing services.

Client Profile: Envivo Creative

I’m so glad I hired Natalie to write my website copy for me. All I had was a set of (what I thought were) incoherent notes about what I wanted my website to say and she was able to turn them into very readable copy that stayed true to my brand’s voice. It was like magic! She was happy to hear my suggestions and my hesitations and offered great advice when it was needed. I will definitely be hiring Natalie again in the future. She was a pleasure to work with!

— Tara Wilder, Envivo Creative

EnvivoCreative-mediumIn September, I had the great experience of collaborating with Tara Wilder, founder of Envivo Creative. Tara recently decided to leave her position as an online marketer for an information technology company to start a business that offers clients dynamic, results-driven online marketing campaigns. She even has a background in psychology, so she can really get into the head of your target market!

Tara WilderWhen I first spoke to Tara, she was finding it difficult to write the copy for her website. She decided to outsource this task, and I quickly realized that she was hitting writing roadblocks because she was too close to the project. After all, she lived and breathed Envivo Creative day in and day out — creating her business plan, working with a business coach, building her website, and attracting initial clients. As is so often the case, I could create her copy quickly and efficiently because of my distance from the business. I don’t stumble over ideas because I am mulling over the possibilities in my head, which can happen so often to entrepreneurs.

The Process

Tara and I began our collaboration with a 30-minute phone conversation. She discussed her company, and I asked relevant questions. Following our initial talk, I asked her to send me materials about her business as well as other ideas she had related to the copy. She requested writing samples, which I was happy to provide to her (and any other potential client).

For the next three weeks, Tara and I traded emails and ideas. I created a first draft of the copy, which she returned to me with notes and suggestions. We developed a great working relationship that fostered honest and productive feedback. By the end of our project, we felt like close colleagues, despite never meeting in person.

I am so excited to see how Tara’s business unfolds. I know Envivo Creative will help any small business get off the ground or grow with the effective marketing campaigns Tara and her team create. And I can’t wait to work with her and other entrepreneurs in the future. Helping someone develop ideas into coherent prose is one of my true passions.

Client Profile: Emi Kirschner (Via Caitlin Merto Designs)

EK_Logo_RGBOne of the reasons I love publishing is seeing the end product. There is nothing better than watching a project come to fruition. No matter whether it’s a book, journal, newsletter, or website, there are lots of moving parts in anything that ends up “out there” for public consumption. Recently, I got a huge rush after seeing the rebranding of a recent client, Emi Kirschner.

Emi, a food, wellness, and lifestyle coach, recently launched her new website, emikirschner.com. This site features a wealth of information and shares Emi’s talents, knowledge, and unique approach. In the near future, Emi will launch “French Fries to Foodies,” a program designed for parents whose kids tend to be picky eaters. Emi’s down-to-earth style and patience will help any family struggling with incorporating well-balanced meals into the daily routine.

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Emi Kirschner

The fabulous graphic artist Caitlin Merto, of Caitlin Merto Designs, implemented and executed Emi’s new brand. Caitlin and I have been collaborating for some time on various rebranding projects, and it was a pleasure to contribute to this one. Emi and I worked closely together to shape her website’s copy to reflect her target audience as well as her enhanced brand, as identified by Caitlin. Earlier in the summer, Emi and I worked on her “Buttoned-up Bio,” which she can use for her many speaking engagements, workshops, and other endeavors. I hope that the copy on Emi’s website conveys her amazing work and her dedication to living better.

Emi, thanks for letting me contribute to your exciting new brand. (And kudos to Leave It to Me Photography for Emi’s fabulous new photos!)

Client Profile: The Law Office of Heather L. Turner, LLC

HeatherTurner_Logo1.inddEarlier this summer I worked with estate attorney Heather L. Turner to create copy for her new website. As the owner of The Law Office of Heather L. Turner, LLC, Heather wanted to create a site that was approachable for individuals and families, no matter their stage of life. Heather offers many services, including an all-in-one package for those looking to create an estate plan, and she wanted copy that conveyed her uncomplicated approach to wills and trusts. Even though she has a beautiful office in Narberth, she’s willing to travel to her clients to ease their burden!

The copy-creating process with Heather was ideal. We collaborated for about a month, beginning with me listening to her presentation at a local MOMS Club meeting. After that we met to discuss her goals for the site and followed up with e-mail exchanges. Heather needed copy for her welcome page, services page, and biography (which is difficult to write yourself, as I blogged about last week). Our working relationship was open and friendly, and I was able to deliver usable copy with just a few rounds of revision. Heather tweaked what I wrote as needed and sent it to her web designer to add to the new site.

Collaborating with Heather was such a rewarding experience. I am a huge advocate for families having estate plans in place, and Heather’s magnetic personality and professional experience make her the perfect person to write and administer wills and trusts. If you are looking for a personable and knowledgable estate planning attorney in Pennsylvania, contact Heather.

And thanks to Heather for such a ringing endorsement:

Natalie listened to what I wanted to portray on my website and helped me say exactly what I wanted. Natalie is easy to work with. She is friendly and professional and treats all clients like they are her biggest.

I can’t begin to express the joy I get from working with talented and smart small business owners. Heather is the perfect example of a go-getter entrepreneur. She understands that hiring people for professional services adds time to her life, giving her more hours to work with her clients. Thanks, Heather, for letting me help you with your informative new site!

5 Tips for Writing a Great Bio

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I’ve had the pleasure of helping multiple people write short bios of themselves in the last few months. Most needed them for their website, professional directories, or speaking engagements and reached out because writing their own bio is just so darn difficult! During this wave, I’ve even had to retool my own biography, which took me more time than I expected!

Why is writing a bio so tough? From my experience, here are some reasons it’s frustrating to tackle this all-important written document:

  • It’s hard to pump yourself up to present your accomplishments in a brief space — in third person, no less!
  • It’s difficult to decide which items to include in a bio and which ones to scrap.
  • It’s challenging to find the right tone for your bio. You are looking to convey a certain message, but that can get lost in just wanting to spit out the facts about yourself.

To ease the bio-creation process, I have provided five tips to help you write a great bio:

1. Compile the facts. Write down all that you’ve done. Dash out the obvious details first, like jobs you’ve had and degrees you’ve earned. Include big and small accomplishments. Jot down fun facts and personal tidbits. Finally, circle items that are most important to include in your bio. Star other things on the list that might make your bio more interesting.

2. Know your audience. Who will be reading this bio? Understanding your audience is the key to any writing. Are you a lawyer needing a bio for your firm’s website? Are you a life coach looking to connect to those attending a workshop you offer? Are you using your bio in a directory where someone might be wanting to use your services?

Once you figure out the target audience for your bio, revisit the list you compiled and think about what’s important. If you need guidance, check out bios written by people in your field. Their audiences are similar, so study the language and details they use and model yours in a similar fashion.

3. Consider your message. Your bio serves a purpose. It may need to convey expertise and authority. It may need to show your interpersonal skills. It may need to include details to help you attain future goals.

Think about how you want to establish yourself and write your bio accordingly. Include adjectives that reflect your message. For example, if you are an event planner, make sure to emphasize your organization skills, whether by saying it or showing it. Or, if you work with families, include some details about your own family or experience you’ve had with organizations that support families or children.

4. Be direct. Don’t assume that people know anything about you when reading your bio. Keep it simple and write in easy-to-read language. Now is not the time to share your creative writing skills. Write in lists of three, as this resonates with readers. Avoid too many details. People just want the nuts and bolts of who you are, not an extensive laundry list of your life.

5. Edit and review. Write a few versions of your bio and read them to someone. Take out a red pen and scratch up the draft. It’ll take a bit of time to get the bio right, so don’t be hesitant to go back to the drawing board and write something new. Though the facts about you may not change with each draft, the way you structure your bio can be altered.

Consider writing long and short bios at the same time so you don’t have to go through this process again any time soon. Using a consistent bio will make you appear more professional.

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To close out this post, I thought I’d share with you the most recent iteration of my short bio. I worked to convey my business services, experience, and passion (in that order). I did not think my degrees or other academic experience were necessary in this brief bio, so I didn’t include them. I added a personal detail about myself at the end because I thought it fit well and shared just a bit about my personal life.

Natalie L. Silver is a writer and editor who collaborates with individuals, businesses, and publishers. Her services include copywriting, editing, and proofreading. She founded Silver Scribe Editorial Services in May 2013 after spending almost a decade working as managing editor for an independent book publisher. Natalie’s love of the written word, experience with different stylebooks, and passion for publishing give her the spark to deliver quality services to all of her clients. She lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband and two children.

And, don’t forget, I am here to help you with your bio if going through this process alone is just too daunting. Send me an e-mail and we can begin a conversation!