Independent Writers
of Chicago

Login

Stet | February 2017

30 Jan 2017 4:53 PM | Cynthia Tomusiak (Administrator)
Stet Newsletter
February 2017

Volume 36 | Number 2

Editor's Note

Stet Editor Cynthia TomusiakCynthia Tomusiak

You are a professional writer, words are your business. Can you use an app for that? I thought I would see what was available to writers to assist them in getting words on the page, quickly and efficiently. Not a word processing program but a text editing program.

I quickly found an article on a Pro Writing App on The Sweet Setup. They recommended Ulysses, a powerful text editing tool for Mac and I-Pad/I-Phone. They said “The mission of a pro writing app should be to help you produce words that will eventually end up being posted, printed, or published. It should provide an environment that is aesthetically pleasing and makes it easy for you to focus and create, and then allow you to take your content and export it wherever you desire.” I was glad that I work on a Mac ,as the only apparent drawback of this app is that it is only for Apple products. Cost: $45.00.

Their next suggestion was for Scrivener which has been recommended by several IWOC members at the monthly meetings. Also $45.00.

You are a professional writer, words are your business. Can you use an app for that?

A newer app is Typed. The favorite feature noted by the author was music! Some research has shown that certain types of music can help focus our attention. Typed has soundtracks embedded in the app that you can open and listen to without an internet connection. At $29.00 it is less expensive but does not offer writing assistance at the level of the others.

For two decent, less expensive options, you could try Byword or Write. Neither lists for more than $12.00 and while they do not have all the bells and whistles of Ulysses, both would be an upgrade if you do not have any other writing app.

Do you use or recommend a different writing app? Please let me know.

If you would like to contribute an article to Stet or be featured in an upcoming IWOC member profile, contact me and plan to submit before the monthly deadline of the 15th. Thank you.

- Cynthia Tomusiak

February Meeting Preview

Post-Election Era Financial Planning for Freelance Writers

Photo by Cynthia Tomusiak

This article finds you two weeks into a new year, three months past an election cycle and three months away from the next tax deadline. 

How will you greet the new fiscal season? 

"Now is the time to seek out advice on how best to start or improve your spending, investment and retirement plans, methods of finding money for investing and management of unstable freelance writing revenues," says Danielle Schultz, author of Idiots Guide: Beginning Investing and financial planner/owner of Haven Financial Solutions, Inc. in Evanston, Illinois.

To help IWOCers start off the new fiscal quarter on the right foot, Schultz will touch on these and other financial planning topics at the next IWOC meeting on Tuesday, February 14th., making her case for “Post-Election Era Financial Planning for Freelance Writers.”

Now is the time to seek out advice on how best to start or improve your spending, investment and retirement plans, methods of finding money for investing and management of unstable freelance writing revenues, says Danielle Schultz.

Schultz is a financial advisor (CFA) certified by Northwestern University since 2011 and registered with the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, a certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) and an Illinois-registered investment advisor.

At the mid-February IWOC presentation, Schultz plans to walk freelance writers through the most prudent and relevant practices and trends in cash flow and spending, charitable giving and college, insurance, investment and retirement planning. Schultz will raise the most important questions freelance writers should ponder in building a comprehensive plan to examine all facets of their financial status: do you have a spending plan that reflects your goals and dreams? Do you have an investment portfolio tailored to meet your needs? Is your retirement secure? Do your estate plans match reality? Have you made the most of your employee or business benefits? How tax-savvy are you? What is your masterplan for college funding, buying another home or financing travel? 

"The best preparation," Schultz says in her blogs, "is to further develop professional skills."

"The best preparation," Schultz says in her blogs, "is to further develop professional skills. To endure an economic recession, freelance writers and all workers otherwise would do well to build skill sets that employers find irresistible such as those in computer science, health care, accounting and engineering. This also applies to adult children tempted to major in liberal arts or impractical fields or concentrations in college."

- Vladimire Herard

Back to top...

January Meeting Recap

Writing Superior White Papers and Case Studies

Photo by Richard Eastline

Starting in the late 1800s to early 1900s in Britain, members of Parliament would write parliamentary papers, known as “blue books” and “white books,” to propose future legislation or policy. The blue books were short policy documents prefaced by blue covers. The white books, or white papers, were longer and protected by white covers.

"Such are the origins of the form of technical writing freelance writers know in the B2B market as the white paper," said George Becht, an IWOC board member at the IWOC January workshop. Becht is an engineer who has produced manuals, proposals, grants, training materials and workshops in the arenas of advertising/marketing, corporate communications, industrial/technical industries, photography and transportation.

Joining Becht was Diana Schneidman, another IWOC board member. Schneidman specializes in producing marketing communications, marketing research, PowerPoints, speech writing and training materials in the subject areas of property-casualty insurance, asset management and business.

He said freelance writers already know the rule for producing a truly refined product -- be prepared to write and re-write.

To secure a white paper assignment, Schneidman told IWOC-ers that they should inform their clients that they have experience in other forms of business writing. “There are people who specialize in white papers in one or another industry,” she said. “It [may be] difficult for you to specialize in any company. If you’ve concentrated on certain companies or industries, you [can say that] you wrote blogs, speeches or press releases. This positions you for white papers. One [assignment] leads to the next.”

Becht said freelance writers already know the rule for producing a truly refined product -- be prepared to write and re-write. “If you want sophisticated [clients] to read this, [be sure to] to review, revise and polish,” he said.

Additionally, Schneidman cautioned writers to make arrangements early on to incorporate graphics or photography into the design and format of white paper assignments. “One of the things you have to clarify is what the document is going to look like,” she said. “A long document of solid text does not cut it these days. They [the clients] expect visuals and images to break up the text.”

Becht recommended that IWOC-ers search online. An independent Internet search for this business need may reveal as many as 300 million potential clients or consumers. Because of the growing demand for white papers, IWOC-ers can expand their freelance-writing businesses with these work products, he said. When asked about case studies, Becht compared this particular class of writing products to “feature magazine articles” that are “one to two pages” long. Written for promotional purposes, a case study is a short documented profile, usually favorable, of a particular product, service, concept or solution. Case studies may average 400 to 800 words in length and may take less than a day to produce.

“One of the things you have to clarify is what the document is going to look like,” she said. “A long document of solid text does not cut it these days.

Becht recommended that IWOC-cers consult these experts, including Michael Stelzner, founder of the Social Media Examiner and author of the book, Launch and Writing White Papers; Gordon Graham, author of White Papers for Dummies and creator of the website ThatWhitePaperGuy.com. He recommended the websites: BitPipe, TechRepublic.com, Google.com, Content Resources, Quora.com, and Revionix. For commercial or technical writing assignments in general, Schneidman pointed to Peter Bowerman’s book The Well-Fed Writer. In a handout titled “Jazz up your long-copy project,” she recommended books about using imagery with business writing assignments by Nancy Duarte, especially one titled Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences.

IWOC Members:
Click here to access the meeting podcast!

Freelancers can command high prices for writing white papers and case studies, she told IWOC-cers. White papers can fetch writers $1,000 to $4,000 per assignment, and some businesses can spend as much as $30,000 to have a white paper prepared for its clients. Additionally, freelance writers have been known to make $100 per hour writing case studies. Schneidman advised writers to consult the Writers Market and Graham’s books on pricing white papers.

Becht also instructed IWOC-ers to attempt to secure one client as long as possible to minimize the costs of writing assignments.

“The ones you retain are more cost-effective than the ones you have to go out and get,” he said.

Get the podcast of the full presentation (members only) at IWOC.org!

- Vladimire Herard

Back to top...

President's Column

My Dad, the Writer

Laura Stigler

I was planning on writing a different article for this month’s Stet issue, but as we can all attest, life doesn’t always go as planned. On New Year’s Eve, my dear Dad, Eric Stigler, passed away. He was 99. Forgive me for sounding like the proud daughter, but he was also one of the most brilliant writers I have ever known, and has remained so up until his mid-nineties. I laugh at the incredulity of that last sentence, but it’s true. Whether it was prose or poetry, limericks or letters, comedy scripts, songs, ad campaigns (he coined “Fly the Friendly Skies of United”) – whatever words flowed from his fountain pen, I was always in awe. His was the standard I aspired to.

His was the standard I aspired to.

In his tribute, I would like to share with my fellow IWOC-ers a poem he wrote that was one of my favorites. It is a testament to his love of words and the English language – something we all, as writers, can appreciate. Written 40 years ago (with minor updates), the tonality is of its time. But the subject, ahead of it, as it was right at the onset of the Women’s Liberation Movement. And although it gently pokes fun at the concept of “having it all,” it also hits upon a truth with which many of us would secretly agree to this day. Enjoy!

Love you, Dad & Mom.

- Laura Stigler

After All, I’m Only Superhuman

by Eric Stigler


“ A HEARTY ACCOLADE, A ROUSING TIGER AND A CHEER, 

FOR NEVA NEWCOMBE NYPE, ACCLAIMED ‘AD-WOMAN OF THE YEAR!’”


I’m from The Bugle, Mrs. Nype: I hate to interlope,

But would you tell our readers of The Day with which you cope;

Where do you find the time to do the many things you do?


“My eager, unspoiled child...the same things could be done by you!

You’ve simply got to budget all the time you have on hand, 

Don’t let a moment trickle through, a wasted grain of sand. 

I run a mammoth Agency; two Columns I compose; 

I Lecture almost endlessly, and Guest on TV Shows. 

Three Textbooks on The Art of Advertising I am writing, 

While students to my Forums I am constantly inviting. 

Two Personal Computers fast respond to my commands.” 


You operate two laptops, ma’am? 


“Why not? I’ve got two hands! 

I manage the ménage about a 28-room house 

With scarce a helping hand from 30 servants and a spouse; 

Singlehandedly I raise eleven offspring...mostly males... 

(Which leaves my 14 nurses naught to handle but details). 

I grow Tibetan orchids, and accumulate antiques; 

With mushrooms that I cultivate, my basement fairly reeks; 

I paint in oils on china, and when program will permit 

The Rosetta Stone I translate into jargonal Sanskrit; 

Rare Gobelin-like tapestries I fashion with my toes, 

In the meanwhile, since it’s idle, judging perfumes with my nose. 

Yes, my day is overflowing, and my schedule’s pretty steep, 

Why, I’ve no room to indulge such whimsicalities as sleep. 

But now our chat is through, my dear; I think you’d better go, 

It’s time for my shock treatment, and I set up quite a glow.”


- Laura Stigler

Back to top...

IWOC Member Article

Phoning for Freelance Work: How to Conquer Damaging Self-talk

Diana Schneidman

What does your brain whisper to you (or even scream!) when you try to start phoning for freelance writing assignments? 

Is it: I’m not ready? With the assumption: I must be perfectly prepared before I call any prospective buyer. 

In their book, Earning What You’re Worth: The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance (1992), George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson identify this as the career-damaging quest for over-preparation. 

This self-talk message can totally talk us out of reaching out to possible clients, according to the authors. We convince ourselves that we aren’t sufficiently prepared and that the person we reach on the phone will ask us a tough question that will reveal our incompetence. 

The solution appears to be more study. Read more books and take additional courses on what to say on calls. Study article after article and scan the websites of multitudes of experts to learn the secret sales phrase that assures success.

We don’t have to know everything. We only need to know the answer—or an initial, temporary answer—to whichever question we most fear will be asked of us.

We may delay by becoming an expert on the person and the company we are calling. Study the website, page by page. Throw in some Google research and examine tweets. Scroll through every line of the individual’s LinkedIn profile. 

However, this is overkill since the person may not answer the call. Furthermore, detailed critiques of what’s wrong with a prospect’s marketing are more likely to repel than to initiate a buy. 

Or we decide that we can’t make calls until we have established our expertise by completing more assignments. But how can we complete more assignments until we obtain more clients? 

Alas, this thinking leads us right to the very lowest-paying assignments that reside on freelance job sites. When we don’t have the confidence to go after the clients we want and to say our price without choking, it’s easiest to prospect online and take what we can get without risking interaction with others. 

If we don’t say anything, we can’t say anything wrong. Right? 

The solution is to understand that we can never be perfectly prepared because we can never know everything a prospect may say to us. Therefore, we must push on and get started all the same. 

We must allow ourselves simply to be adequately prepared. And if we build on past full-time jobs or freelance experience to develop our business, we are adequately prepared.

Therefore, let’s determine what we absolutely must know or do in order to be minimally qualified to make a phone call. Be honest here. We don’t have to know everything. We only need to know the answer—or an initial, temporary answer—to whichever question we most fear will be asked of us. 

Also, let’s not start with the most likely prospects. Start with those who are a little removed from our specialty. This reduces our stress, and if we come off a little unpolished, c’est la vie.

We must allow ourselves simply to be adequately prepared. And if we build on past full-time jobs or freelance experience to develop our business, we are adequately prepared. 

Diana Schneidman is an IWOC member and the author of Real Skills, Real Income: A Proven Marketing System to Land Well-Paid Freelance and Consulting Work in 30 Days or Less, available on Amazon.

- Diana Schneidman

Back to top...

IWOC's New Members

Please welcome IWOC's newest members!

Val Gee - Senior Member 

Michele Begovich - Associate Member 

Marcus Emanual - Associate Member 

Carla M. Shaffer - Associate Member 

Peter Stephen Strandquist - Professional Member

- Pam Colovos

Back to top...

IWOC Board of Directors

Laura Stigler (President), Jeff Steele (Vice-president), Claire Nicolay (Secretary), Brent Brotine (Treasurer), David Steinkraus (Parliamentarian) George Becht, Tom Lanning, Diana Schneidman Cynthia Tomusiak

Copyright 2011–2017, Independent Writers of Chicago
332 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1032 #W686
Chicago, IL 60604-4434
800-804-IWOC (4962)

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software