Client Profile: Real Estate by Katie Kincade

Aside from my publishing clients, my favorite people to serve are busy entrepreneurs, striving to build and grow their business and their brand. My recent work with Realtor Katie Kincade highlights how I can collaborate and help those who are responsible for all aspects of their growing enterprise.

This fall, Katie and I met to discuss writing projects she needed completed . . . yesterday. She had gone to the effort to develop a new website, but between meetings with potential clients, listings of homes in the Main Line area of Philadelphia, showings with her current clients, and closings with those at the end of the buying and selling process, Katie had no time to develop website copy. She needed help!

After our initial meeting, Katie and I exchanged emails for the next few months. We gathered ideas, I wrote drafts of potential copy, and she responded with helpful edits, resulting in the finished material she desired. And it took just a fraction of the time it would have taken Katie to do it on her own. After all, being a real estate mogul doesn’t leave much time for sitting down in front of the computer and writing copy (especially about oneself, which is especially tricky!). When all was said and done, Katie had a robust new website without having the stress of doing it all herself.

It’s hard to believe it, but one of the busiest times of year for Realtors is coming up — spring market. If you live in the Philadelphia area and are looking for a Realtor to help you upsize, downside, or get into your first home, consider contacting Katie. You can check out her website at Real Estate by Katie Kincade.

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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.

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!

Client Profile: Small Steps

Small Steps LogoLast month I had the opportunity to work with someone who’s just taken a big, brave leap into pursuing her career dreams (just like I did a few years ago!). Elizabeth Small (hereafter Liz) decided recently that she wanted to focus all of her professional efforts on growing her small business, Small Steps. Her endeavor provides reflections, one-on-one sessions, and workshops to those who are looking to restore or grow their personal faith. She also provides programing for college campuses on spirituality and hooking up. And, the best part of all, she’s honest, funny, and self-deprecating, which gives her regular blog posts a refreshing voice and makes them must-reads.

Liz reached out to me after realizing that creating the copy for her website was too daunting a task to do alone. She had hired other professionals, including a photographer and graphic and web designers, to elevate her site’s look, and she wanted to make sure her copy delivered the Small Steps message as effectively as possible.

HeadshotDuring our collaboration, Liz and I traded many e-mails and files. She contributed the original ideas and writing to the project, and I looked through it with an editorial eye to suggest ways to be more direct and explicit. For Liz’s website, she needed to be clear about her services but also retain her distinct voice. As an editor, I wanted to achieve these objectives while also checking for other grammar, usage, and style issues. In just a few weeks, Liz and I had polished her copy and it was ready for her website’s new launch.

Liz was kind enough to supply a quote I could use for my own marketing efforts as I continue to grow my offerings for individuals and small businesses. Regarding our collaboration, Liz said: “Working with Natalie was such a treat! She’s clearly honed her trade as an editor, and I felt like all of her suggestions helped my message become clearer!”

If you are in need of reconnecting with your personal needs and spiritual life, contact Liz to set up a time to talk. She offers regular programs on self-care, something many of us could use on a regular basis. And if you are looking to refine or create a clear and effective message for your own small business, reach out to me so we can begin a meaningful collaboration.

Partnering With Caitlin Merto Designs

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Last week I mentioned a new partnership with an amazing graphic designer. For the last few months, I have collaborated with Caitlin Merto, the creative force behind Caitlin Merto Designs. Caitlin helps entrepreneurs — specifically female entrepreneurs — brand their small businesses with stunning graphics, smart web design, and helpful business tips. I am honored to work with Caitlin and her clients to create and edit dynamic copy for their brands.

Caitlin’s weekly newsletters share great tips for small business owners, so consider signing up to receive them. An insightful, driven, and talented entrepreneur herself, Caitlin has so much knowledge to share about branding and doing what you love. We are both in the process of building our own businesses and are learning so much from each other as we collaborate.

C-4Partnering with such a focused entrepreneur provides me with the opportunity to utilize my writing and editing skills for individuals and small businesses. I love the nuts and bolts of publishing in all media forms, so it’s a dream to have projects that include books, journals, websites, and more. My current workload includes all of these formats, so I am feeling great about taking on the challenge of owning a small business.

If you are interested in taking your website or other marketing materials to the next level, consider consulting with Caitlin on crafting your brand. You won’t be disappointed!

(Thanks to Leave It to Me Photography for Caitlin’s beautiful headshot!)

Small Business Owners: Why You Need an Editor

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Hey small business owner! Yeah you! The one with the website, brochure, newsletter, and blog that you are trying to manage along with your business services, networking events, professional development, and accounting. Are you feeling a little overwhelmed?

As a small business owner myself, I bet that you have a pretty long to-do list. I started my publishing services business two years ago and have gone from “I feel overwhelmed at the thought of getting all of this going” to “I am not sure where I should be spending my time and efforts.”

Sound familiar?

Chances are, if you are running a small business, you are passionate about the services you offer. Whether it’s selling products, providing services, or being just plain awesome, you want to spend your time focusing on these activities, not on invoicing, tracking expenses, writing copy, or reviewing every marketing material for grammar, usage, and style. That’s where other professionals can help so you can focus on those all-important core activities of your business.

Here are three reasons to find and hire an editor now:

You Need a Brand and You Need to Build It

Just like so many small business owners outsource bookkeeping to keep their accounting organized and streamlined, hiring an editor and/or writer can simplify and boost your marketing plans. In this day in age of content marketing, where you send out informational content to be absorbed by the masses (think social media posts, blogs, and newsletters), your communication efforts need to be substantial and well presented. As a Harvard Business Review article, “Every Content Marketer Needs an Editor,” describes:

The editor . . . acts as a proxy for the reader, and ensures your content offers that reader real value in return for their time.  That editor also has the ability to recognize the difference between an idea that’s worth a 140-character tweet, and one that can be developed into a blog post or report—or, for that matter, a three-minute video. They have the ability to work with an author whose ideas may be terrific but who may not be a strong communicator, and develop that author’s ideas into a compelling and engaging piece of content. And yes, the ability to transform inelegant or even incoherent prose into a tight, readable argument.

So you may be an expert in fitness, in selling jewelry, or in creating beautiful interior designs, but it’s unlikely that you’ve got the time to create each piece of written communication necessary to build your brand for the masses. (If you need help developing your branding concept, check out my associate, Caitlin Merto). Let an expert navigate the world of words so you can focus on everything else.

Why not hire a person who gleefully enrolled in a grammar, usage, and style class in college and who practices editing and writing skills everyday working with a variety of clients? A trained and skilled editor can keep you on message and write eloquent prose in a fraction of the time you would spend doing it. Think of how much more precise a trained photographer is at taking pictures and editing them than an amateur. That’s what an editor can do with your written communication.

You Need Someone to Put Thoughts to Paper

I recently worked with a client whose vision was clear but who had no idea how to articulate her concepts through words, delaying her from launching a new business. She called me one day with trepidation and excitement, unsure if I could help her but excited at the possibility of getting her thoughts on paper.

During our initial phone consultation, the client and I spoke about her concept, her audience, and her needs. Later, we met at a coffee shop and just talked. She told me about herself and her ideas for the business, and I wrote down key phrases and themes that kept appearing in the conversation. She gave me some handouts she had used for workshops that might help craft her message. After our meeting, I went home, compiled my notes and, in just a handful of hours, created web copy that conveyed her vision.

Imagine how long it would take you to create polished copy for a five-page website and think about whether it’s worth your time.

You Need Polished, Professional Prose

Not only can an editor make your thoughts and ideas come to life through words, he or she can also review your prose and correct grammar, usage, and style mistakes as a copy editor. A copy editor looks at the nuts and bolts of your writing and fixes it for obvious errors, grammar mistakes, and overall clarity, among other things.

The article “10 Reasons You Need a Copy Editor” by Whiterock Business Solutions articulates perfectly why you need a copy editor for your business:

There is nothing more embarrassing then promoting yourself or your company with materials that are riddled with typos, grammar mistakes, inconsistencies and poor sentence structure. How can a potential customer expect that you will do quality work when the materials you publish do not live up to the same level of quality.

An editor doesn’t seem like such an extraneous investment for your business now, does it?

I hope I’ve made my case for why every small business owner should utilize the services an editor provides. If you want to take your business to the next level, let’s talk about how I can make your written communication sparkle. Contact me at natalielsilver(at)yahoo(dot)com so we can start a conversation.