Tuesday, March 27, 2012

BRAVO, WASHINGTON STATE! #3 Least-Corrupt State in the Union


> Overall Grade: B- (83%)

> Public access to information: B-

> Legislative accountability: B+

> Political financing: C+

> Ethics enforcement agencies: B-

Washington stands out among states for its exemplary level of transparency. In 1972, the state was the first to pass a Public Records Act, which is a series of laws intended to guarantee public access to public records of government bodies at all levels. The state has strict ethics laws and campaign disclosure laws, and an Open Public Meetings Act that requires transparency. The state’s judiciary are elected directly by citizens at all levels. State legislature committee meetings and floor action are open to the public and often featured on state television.

Read more: America’s Least Corrupt States - 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/2012/03/22/americas-least-corrupt-states/#ixzz1qLEIsuAa

Monday, March 12, 2012

What Does a Copywriter Do?

WHAT DOES A COPYWRITER DO?       © 2012 by Kristine M. Smith

Consider the power of words when eloquently aligned. Words have inspired great works of art, terrible acts of war, and selfless acts of love. According to Genesis, God’s words alone created the universe and everything in it, seen and unseen.

As a business owner, speaker, coach, or entrepreneur, what kind of world are you creating with the words you’ve posted or spoken to let others know about you and what you can do for them?

Are you pushing a product or service at people and wondering why your conversion rate is laughably low?

Is your “target audience” not fully-understanding the rock-solid value of your offer?

If not, is it because you’re targeting them rather than transforming them into mini-you’s who “sneeze” your products and services virally because they’ve been transformed by what you’ve done for them?

The value of a professional copywriter can’t be calculated and should never be underestimated...but sadly, all too often it is.

Perhaps you consider copywriters to be paid product pushers, ad men and women, shills for the people they serve, undeserving of respect or wealth. Certainly there are those in the trade who will work on any project regardless of its value, just as there are vanity publishers who will publish trash because they’re in it strictly for the fees they can charge.

But good copywriters pick and choose the people and businesses they serve. Ethical copywriters won’t write false testimonials for start-ups, or a great sales page for an e-book that reeks. Great copywriters look high and low for projects they can invest themselves in 100% for people they respect and admire.

A great copywriter is a wordsmith, a transformer, a magician, a spellbinder.

A great copywriter dances with words, distills benefits into compelling, converting talking points, clarifies hard-to-understand technical papers.

A great copywriter builds brands, creates memorable slogans and taglines.

A great copywriter sells, tells, compels, and propels the people who are in need of your product or service.

A great copywriter knows how to approach your prospect and blow in his or her ear, how to create a little intrigue and romance.

A great copywriter knows that social media is no place to behave like a bull in a china shop. They’ve taken the book LIKEABLE SOCIAL MEDIA to heart and will not behave badly when writing in that realm.

Great copywriters almost never offer their services at bargain basement prices, even in this economy. If/when they do, it is usually out of the fullness of their hearts for causes or people they know and feel compelled to serve out of a commonality of purpose or an abiding friendship.

If you consider professional copywriters expensive, consider these facts:

Like many (if not most) of you, freelance copywriters are entrepreneurs.

We don't get paid vacations

We don't get paid sick days

We rarely get bonuses for outstanding work or holidays

We cover the full costs of any insurance plans we have

We cover 100% of the costs for our federal Social Security and other mandated plans

We don't qualify for unemployment if work doesn’t materialize

We live in an expensive economy

We must take into account the time it requires to find and quote on projects

Although freelance copywriters enjoy our work...sadly....enjoyment doesn't pay the rent!

The National Writers Union and other folks in the know suggest that professional copywriters charge $1 to $2 per word. (That's not a typo.)

Please Note: Because I usually serve start-up entrepreneurs and small businesses, I keep my rates as low as I possibly can because I know how cash-strapped most businesses are in this economy and I want to help--but without losing my shirt!

A lot goes into landing copywriting work (in both time and treasure). It takes (according to Malcolm Gladwell’s THE TIPPING POINT) 10,000 hours to attain proficiency and expertise in any realm. Some freelance writers (including this one) exceeded this exalted milestone before they turned twenty years old. (Air-breathers have to breathe; fish have to swim; writers have to write—the activity isn’t optional. What we do keeps us alive, inside and out.)

If you’ve read this far, you’ve passed the only test I’ll ever give you. I needed you to understand what you’re getting if you choose me to serve you. You’ll get my absolute best efforts based on years of study, practice, and experience—nothing less.


Kristine M Smith is a freelance copywriter and the author of six (soon to be seven) books