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Stet Newsletter | October 2017

08 Oct 2017 6:54 AM | Anonymous
Stet Newsletter
October 2017

Volume 36 | Number 10

Editor's Note

Stet Editor Cynthia TomusiakCynthia Tomusiak

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. -Thomas Jefferson, 1787.

Thanks to everyone who wrote to me in response to my last article. A variety of print news is still beloved by many. The New York Times was the most read and the runners up were:

  • The Washington Post
  • The New Yorker
  • Vanity Fair
  • Chicago Tribune
  • Chicago Sun-Times

This led me to wonder about the history of the newspaper. According to the historic pages website, the direct forerunner of newspapers appeared in Germany in the late 1400’s. In 1666, the London Gazette became the first “true” newspaper. The first successful newspaper in America was the Boston News-Letter, published in 1704. The Jefferson quote was noted as one that was often used by newspaper writers.

“But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

But there was more to Jefferson’s famous quote (above), he went on to say: “But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

I have learned, and I am sure many others have as well, most quotes are often a portion of what the speaker or writer meant to say. Often, quotes are taken out of context. I love a good quote but I love a good story even better. What are your favorite quotes? What is the backstory behind them? Feel free to send them to me and they will appear in the next Stet. Thanks!

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

October Meeting Preview

Roundtable discussion – bring your queries; offer your advice

Join other IWOC-ers for our annual “round-table” discussion of freelance-writing issues that have been plaguing your colleagues, who actually may face challenges similar to yours. It’s a great opportunity to help others and yourself simultaneously by interacting in pro-active fashion, providing your own advice, observations, and recent writing experiences—while seeking advice yourself.

Here’s how it works. After a few introductory remarks about some of the pressing types of issues that writers face today, we will divide into several small groups, each with a leader who will help stimulate the small-group discussion.

Near the end of the session, each small-group leader will recap that group’s key insights to the entire audience present, including the most useful tidbits of advice generated.

A key goal is to ensure that there will be time and opportunity for each person—that is, you and your colleagues--to talk about his or her own particular questions or topics.

So think about an issue that’s been challenging you lately. For example, this could be: collecting on late or unpaid invoices; dealing with assignments that expand beyond your quoted price; marketing your talents in a new field; and addressing the goal of making more money. Any topic that applies to your freelance writing efforts is fair game. Then write it down, and bring it up at the meeting.

Additional topics to think about include:

  • How to pursue niche markets -- advertising, business, education healthcare, PR, technical, the web
  • How to address publishing challenges – article-writing, books, magazines, newspapers
  • How to beef up your technology repertoire –computers, digital gadgets, phones, software, web sites
  • How to improve biz processes – billing, cold-calling, collaboration , collections, marketing, networking, pricing, promotions

The “round tables” were well received last year. And remember: you are engaging with a roomful of collegial experts with lots of talent. So come to the meeting with the goal of interacting in lively fashion to help other IWOC-ers. That way, the combined interactivity will be sure to help yourself—that is, what’s good for all is going to be good for each!

The IWOC meeting will take place Tuesday, October 10th in Room 4G (4th fl.) at the Gratz Center, 126 E. Chestnut St. /115 E. Delaware, Chicago, just west of Michigan Ave., adjacent to Fourth Presbyterian Church. Discounted parking (after 5 pm, with validation) is located at the 900 N. Michigan Ave. garage. Networking at 5 p.m. Main program, 6 p.m. IWOC members admitted free and do not need to register. Nonmembers, $15. ($10 if pre-registered). Free for first-time attendees, but on-line registration is still required. After the meeting, attendees are invited to a nearby restaurant for a buy-your-own dinner to further discuss writing-related topics or to continue networking.

For more information, call 800-804-IWOC (800-804-4962) or visit

IWOC is a nonprofit professional association of freelance writers living in the Chicago metropolitan area whose clients range from local to global. Together, IWOC members represent a broad spectrum of writing talents, consultation services, and specialties serving large corporations, small businesses, and not-for-profit organizations.

- Tom Lanning

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September Meeting Recap

Leveraging LinkedIn

Lori Howard

Lori Howard with Unearth Your Worth was our energetic and engaging speaker on the topic of Leveraging the Power of LinkedIn.

She started off the presentation with from statistics from LinkedIn from 2016:

  • 97% of HR/staffing used LinkedIn at some point in hire process
  • 93% of recruiters use LinkedIn
  • 48% of recruiters use LinkedIn exclusively to recruit
  • 77% of all job openings are on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the single most important tool to advance your career and find jobs that fit you. HR personnel and recruiters will often search on LI before even posting a job opening. When you unlock the power of LinkedIn, work you like will find you. And, best of all, it does not have to be expensive. Lori recommended that you fully leverage the free stuff before you even think about using any of the paid functions.

Linked in is THE social networking tool for the job search but it is not a replacement for your resume. Your resume is still very important and needs to have a sharp focus on what your ideal job looks like.

She started with the LinkedIn profile. Profiles are stories about your career. It should be crafted so it shows you are ready to get the job that you really want. Is it showcasing your passion and skills for the job you want? When you are working on your profile, turn off notifications so that your connections do not see every update you make. However, even if you are employed you should have notifications on most of the time. LinkedIn is a professional networking system too. In her presentation (available to members on the IWOC website), she showed examples from her profile page.

Lori broke the profile into six must-haves that will only take about ten minutes to set up.

Photo: a photo is a must!

A photo makes you: 14 times more likely to be found and 21 times more likely for someone to click on your profile. The photo can be a selfie but must be professionally dressed and a headshot of you.

Custom URL

It should look like this: Put this on your business card and share it, everywhere you can.

Custom headline

Use key words that recruiters might search for and Lori recommended against “clever taglines”.

Skills list

A skills list will get you 13 times more views and make you prioritize your top three. Some may stop reading after that.

Contact information with a professional email

You need a professional email that is just for your job search.

Get notified

While you should turn off notifications whenever you are making multiple changes, you should turn on notifications when you are done making changes. You can find this feature under Jobs/Update preferences and be sure to fill out the whole box

For more details, the handout, podcast and the Q and A session, login to:

- Cynthia Tomusiak

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President's Column

Election 2017: What Just Happened?

Laura Stigler

In a landslide victory worthy of a despotic nation, the 2017-18 Board of Directors was approved by an astounding 100% of the members present at the October’s Annual Meeting. The uncontested winners were:

  • President: Laura Stigler
  • Vice President: George Becht
  • Treasurer: Brent Brotine
  • Co-Secretaries: Jeff Steele and Claire Nicolay
  • Parliamentarian: Tom Lanning
  • Director: Richard Eastline
  • Director: Marjorie Skelly

Please be assured that the vote was carried out aboveboard, in broad daylight, without any Russian interference. What this means is that the above Board can assume their roles with the full confidence that the feds won’t be breathing down their backs any time soon. This is all excellent news, as it allows us to move forward in implementing our agenda.

I second that!

As you may (or may not) know, I will be entering my second term as IWOC’s President. Why a second term? Probably for the same reason a nonagenarian career politician keeps on running: I’ve still some unfinished business. Granted, during 2016-17 we accomplished what was tops on my administration’s agenda: to make it easier and more affordable to join. For more on what we’ve achieved in 2016-17, please refer to the President’s Column in September’s Stet.

To paraphrase Uncle Sam, “We Want You” to voice your opinions.

But despite all that, and much as I’m itching for a sorely needed round of miniature golf, now is not the time to retreat in recess. There remain many items on my wish list, and that of the Board’s – and that of our constituents (aka IWOC members) that I would like to see implemented. To wit:

  • For our monthly programs, having more guest speakers who hire; published authors speaking about not only their books, but their own stories; more panels where IWOC’ers discuss their particular specialties
  • Conducting workshops and/or seminars, such as on editing, publishing and more.
  • Increasing the offerings on the Writers Job Line
  • I’m a firm believer in “bread and chocolate” – so more fun stuff (chocolate) in the vein of the upcoming October 12 American Writers Museum tour for IWOC members
  • Reaching out more to businesses to increase awareness of IWOC and its stellar members

Your voice counts

The Board has arranged a Planning Meeting on October 21. And no, that’s not code for renting a room at the Wynn in Vegas and romping in a hot tub on the membership’s dime. As the title implies, we will be planning the Big Picture for how we see IWOC moving forward in the next year. The aforementioned are some of the ideas to be discussed, but we may be missing some areas. To paraphrase Uncle Sam, “We Want You” to voice your opinions. Write me. Tell me what you’d like IWOC to offer. Fun stuff. Serious business stuff. Anything you feel would add value to IWOC and, by extension, to your career and writing craft. We’ll run everything up the flagpole and salute all ideas that are in our members’ best interests.

On behalf of the IWOC Board, thank you for your voice and your vote of confidence.

And I approve this message.

- Laura Stigler

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IWOC Member Article

Charge late fees to freelance business clients: Yes or no?

Diana Schneidman

It seems to be fairly common for freelancers to charge late fees when payment is not received as prescribed by contract.

Frankly, I disagree with this practice.

How late fees work

Let’s say that payment is due 30 days after final invoicing. And let’s further say the tab totals $1,000. If payment is not received by the 30-day deadline, the contract may specify a late fee of 1.5% per month. In this case it’s $15. This 1.5% per month works out to 18% annually if payment is postponed, let’s say, a year.

The interest rate is substantial, but to the freelancer, it’s peanuts. Any reasonable freelancer would much prefer to get the $1,000 promptly than $15 per month for a year. Whether you are working to pay this month’s electric bill or save for retirement, the cash in hand is what counts today.

To put it simply, adding late fees assures neither payment of the original invoice nor collection on the fees.

Why late fees work for credit card issuers

Charging such fees works for credit card companies, you may say.

True, but there are some differences between financing companies, such as credit card issuers, and freelancers, who certainly are not in the financing business.

The most important is that the credit card holder pays on the bill every single month. When a month passes with no payment at all, there is a penalty ranging from an additional charge to rejecting any additional purchases on the card. Therefore, money is always coming in and the consumer must actually remit something monthly. In addition, credit card companies have clout and regularly report collection problems to the credit rating agencies.

In contrast, even if the party owing money does not object to the freelancer’s late fee, it doesn’t guarantee that any money will ever be forthcoming. They may be fine with the fee because they have no intention of paying up.

What power can the freelancer exert to speed payment?

Almost nothing.

There are phone calls and other follow up, but these may elicit a simple yawn.

There’s the refusal to do further work until payment is received, but many past clients would rather go on to the next freelancer and restart the same cycle with someone else than pay up to get more work done. Anyway, you would demand full payment upfront next time, wouldn’t you?

Maybe you could report it to some online website that posts such problems and identifies deadbeats, but this may help the next person investigating the prospect more than it helps you collect.

There’s the possibility of small claims court, but success stories are exceedingly rare, in part because our clients may be far away from us geographically. Also, taking action is expensive in terms of both time and money (if we hire an attorney); a bill of $1,000 may feel substantial to us but insufficient to justify full-out legal action. Nor does winning the case assure they will pay.

To put it simply, adding late fees assures neither payment of the original invoice nor collection on the fees.

I don’t charge late fees because adding these fees to the account may appear to put an uncomplaining client in compliance with the project contract even though no money has been received—and perhaps never will be received.

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

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IWOC's New Members

Please welcome:

Bernie Biernacki - Professional Member

Alicia Dale - Professional Member

- Roger Rueff

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IWOC Board of Directors

Laura Stigler (President), George Becht (Vice-president), Claire Nicolay and Jeff Steele (co-Secretaries), Brent Brotine (Treasurer), Tom Lanning (Parliamentarian), Richard Eastline, Marjorie Skelly (Directors)

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