Author Archives: Lisa

You Dont Get to Keep the Rights in Writing-For-Hire

No Rights in Writing-for-Hire
Excuse me?

You give up your rights serial or otherwise when youre hired to write for someone else. That isnt the same as being given article assignments from a magazine editor. It also isnt the case when one of your pieces ends up in an anthology. Those rights, beyond whatever you sell (think serial rights, and syndication rights), belong to you. In writing specifically for another person, you have no rights to the piece once its paid for.

Did you understand this when first getting into copywriting? Or did you learn about it the hard way? If youre still unsure, read Circular 9. Its one of several publications put out by the Copyright Office. Work-for-hire includes writing-for-hire. Writing-for-hire means you dont get to keep the rights once your client pays you.

Up until payment point, yes, the rights are yours. Once payment exchanges hands, however, you have no more rights to that piece. None. Nada. Zip and zilch. The key is the payment: once a client pays you for whatever you wrote for them, it belongs to the client. Not you.

Now, Im not a lawyer. I dont even play one on TV. Look into it yourself (click on the link above). Hire your own copyright-savvy lawyer and get the full information.

Does this information surprise you? Or did you find out the hard way? Share your experiences with me.

How Much Is a Name Worth?

Projects of any kind are more than just their name.

If you want a brochure, youre getting more than a simple, tri-fold piece of paper with pretty graphics and a few lines of text. Content with 1200 words filling several pages is more than just words strung together; the same goes for a 500-word blog. Deep research (as a task all to itself) is more than a few quick clicks on a few popular sites.

What you get with work-for-hire is a total, behind-the-scenes package. That package includes such things as

  • reading your background information about your company and organizing it into a cohesive whole;
  • investigating what your competition is doing;
  • designing the project from start to finish;
  • detailing notes about the project and saving them; and, yes,
  • other tasks such as outlining, writing, editing, proofreading, filing, revising, phoning,

and so on. Its a package deal with an intrinsic value all its own: saving you time because you dont have to do it all. Instead, you can work on building your business.

The next time you look at a freelance copywriters site (mine or anyone elses), please remember all thats going into your project. The time they save you in creating your project makes its name worth asking for.

What Kind of Brochure Works Best for You?

Brochures are about as low-tech as you can ask for. They arent quite as prevalent as a business card. But, you can put so much more in the brochure than on a standard business card.

Kinds of Brochures

Is your brochure lead-generating, or is it more sales orientated? To be effective, it needs to be either one or the other. Services fit well in a lead-generating brochure. Products fit best in a sales brochure. Ideas? Well, those usually need more than a brochure to either present or sell.

Why do services fit well in lead-generating brochures?

For the most part, services such as contracting, retirement homes, non-profits, and yes, writing dont have specific prices. Services begin with  understanding of what you want, and then you receive a quoted price. (Got Donors? Want More Donors? for my sample of a lead-generating brochure.)

So, how does a product brochure work in sales?

A product is tangible. You can touch it, see it, use any or all of your five senses. As such, a specific price is attached to it. Do you need a robe? $49.99 and six different colors. How about the latest best-seller in hard-back? $32.95. Do you want to belong to a Fruit and Cheese of the Month club? $399.95. Its all tangible.

Can you combine them ?

Yes, but Do you really want to?

Plumbing is a service, and it has varying rates depending on what needs to be done. Lets say that Simon is a plumber. He puts his simple repair rate at $25/hour in a brochure. He gives out a hundred brochures.

For the next five months, he gets work directly from the brochure. He also gets referrals from satisfied customers. After nine months, hes getting more work from referrals than from the brochures. He raises his fees to $50/hour because hes in such demand. Another year goes by; he raises it again to $65.

Then, Brad calls. He still has the brochure from 21 months ago. It states that Simons rate is $25/hour. Brad is going to be irate when he hears that Simons rate is now $40 more! (The brochure didnt state an expiration date. It didnt state anything about fees changing without notice.) What usually happens?

Accusations of bait-and-switch! No sale for the plumber unless he wants to honor the fee in the outdated brochure. Poor review if he doesnt honor it. Poor review if he does honor it, but also tells the client that the fee rose in those months. Worse, Brad will probably call the Attorney General to report Simon.

Not fair, I know. But, it happens. It happens a lot!

So, yes, you can combine the brochure into a lead-generating and sales-orientated piece. I wouldnt recommend it.

For a sample of a lead-generating brochure: Got Donors? Want More Donors?

For a sample of a sales-orientated brochure: Magic_Makeup_ Brochure

What do you think is a good example of a lead-generating brochure that youve seen recently? How about an example of a sales-orientated one? Let me hear from you!

Do You Give Your Donors What They Really Want to Know?

They are buzz words. Catch words. The pair of words of the year:

Content Marketing

Non-profit organizations (or not-for-profit, as some organizations are saying) need to learn how to use this concept right now. They need it as much as – or even more than – for-profit businesses.


NPOs thrive on attracting and keeping donors. Nowadays, said donors are researching various causes and charities before donating. They study theirfavorite cause with an eye toward getting the best use out of every dollar they give. If you give the donors what they want, more information rather than only appeals, you’ll see your responses rise.

What is it then?

This explanation, from the Content Marketing Institute, says it best:

Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer [a clearly defined audience] moreintelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty. (From Content Marketing Institute, 2014)

If you substitute “non-profit organizations” for “businesses” you’ll still have the same message. Great content – such as articles, case studies or the like – educates your donors. You know who you want to attract: those who believe in your organization. They are your “clearly defined audience.” Such writing gives them the information they want in order to decide whether to donate to yourorganization or not.

But, we DO educate our donors!

Yes, in a one way, you do. You let them know your mission. About how much your organization helps their favorite cause. About what is still needed. About why they need to give to your organization. You let them know where their dollars are going. What you’re doing with the funds. And you do it with an appeal attached to each letter, newsletter, brochure and piece of email they receive.

Donors want more

Your mission statement isn’t enough anymore. Donors (like everyone else) are hungry. They want ongoing information. They want to know more than what your organization stands for. They want to know the overall reasons for sticking with you.

For example, just today the World Health Organization announced that every year 7 million people die of air pollution. Yes, 7,000,000. Now, you could say, “This is why we work toward cleaning the air. But, we can’t do it alone. We need your help.”

That isn’t what those donors want in their articles, in their case studies. They want information about the air pollution. They want to know why 7 million diefrom it.

  • Who it affects
  • What it is
  • When it’s the worst
  • Where it is
  • Why it’s been allowed to go on for so long
  • How to do something about it

Content marketing is necessary
if you want to attract new donors and
keep the donors you already have

This is what content marketing is. It’s giving your donors the information that they want to read, that they want to learn. It’s marketing without the overt appeals. It’s information, sure and clear. When you give them what they want online, they’ll gladly respond to your appeals in other forms.

What kind of content marketing are you doing? Let me hear from you!

How an Irish Poem Can Help Your Organization Get More Green

Years ago, I heard this poem set to music:

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Its a great blessing. Its also an optimistic business plan for your non-profit organization!

May the road rise up to meet you  

Planning the scope of your not-for-profit organization, or re-focusing on it, will help you on your service road. Remember your donors. Only a few thousand of the (estimated) 240,000,000 adults in the USA will agree with your vision. Travel toward them; concentrate your efforts on them. Leave the detours alone.

May the wind be always at your back

Its easier to move forward if you have the wind behind you. Todays wind is both postal and internet. Use both to connect with your donors. Walk in the flow of a warm wind.

May the sun shine warm upon your face

Share the sunshine. Give your donors that warm feeling of helping. Without donors, your organization wont exist very long. Share the sunshine.

May the rains fall soft upon your fields

Fields are life-giving. In the figurative sense, your donors are your fields. Your appeals are your rains on those fields. Water your fields well, and you will have an abundant crop. Let the fields lie fallow, or neglect to water them, and your theyll will wither and go. Donors are the same way.

And, until we meet again

Writing appeals to your donors needs to be ongoing. Theyre glad to hear from you. Why wouldnt they be? They share your vision. Just dont overwhelm them with an appeal every day (not even in an email).

May God hold you in the palm of His hand

More donors like to be helpful than not. They dont want to be inundated with appeals, but they will help you when they can. In the meantime, between appeals, you will let them know that you value their support by wishing them good health, good wealth and good wisdom.

Its a good business model

While the poem is a source of good wisdom all on its own, its also a good point to remember as a business model.

So, until you and I meet again, may you be held in the palm of His hand!

What does the poem represent to you? Here now, lass and laddie; show me what you may be a-thinkin!

Have You Sent Your Donors a REAL Thank You Note Yet?

Donors won’t give to your non-profit organization unless and until they feel that they make a difference. They give anywhere from a dollar a month to thousands of dollars every year. They’ve always given and always will.

At the same time, they’re human, and not just an endless wallet.

Is This What Your Donors Are Saying?

I’ve given to (non-profit organization) for the last six years. I gladly give whenever I can, but I’d like some kind of recognition for the money I give them. The only thing I ever get is a form-letter thank you, with a request for more tacked on. Or another bunch of address stickers. Just once I’d like someone there to take the time to send me a real thank you note!

A “Thank You” note sent by mail does wonders. It shows that your organization (and you in particular because you signed it) cares as much for the donor herself as for the money she sends. Granted, it might be difficult to manage if you’re a large organization. But, even then, a keyboarded note of thanks on good stationery, personally signed, and sent by post can go a long way. It isn’t impossible. It’s the ultimate “Thank You” in a world that relies more and more on instant gratification.

But, Donors Don’t Really Want Notes Like That!

Almost every donor says they want their money to go to the organization’s services. But, even then, they usually won’t blast the organization for sending a personal note. Especially since it’s void of an outright request.

Our Funds for Those Kinds of Thing Are Limited

How much is the lifetime gifts from that Donor? Most Donors give more than a hundred dollars every year in small increments ($10x12months=$120/year). They also give continually for as many as five, ten or thirty years. And thats for the monthly gifts.

They also give during the occasional special appeals.

Wouldnt you agree, then, that the roughly $3-$5 per once-a-year note of thanks is a minimal cost to spend and send?


It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to be kind.

Send it once a year, on their donation anniversary. Being on the receiving end (for once) will make the Donor feel that their donations really do count.

And, after feeling appreciated, the Donor will be ready to donate again (and maybe even more) for your next request for funds.

What do you think about sending real thank you notes? Let me hear from you in the comments below.

How to Use the Current Snow Storms to Improve Marketing

“Snow! It’s snowing outside! Hooray for the snow day! Hurry! Let’s build a snowman – or three or six. We’ll shovel the walk later.”

And this is just from the adults.

Except for asthmatics like me; I love to look at it, but can’t be out in it for long because it brings on an attack. Instead, as a freelancer who already works at home, I tend to put away the work, using the snow day as an excuse to play.

After all, how many businesses are closed today? I might as well be, too.

I plan hot menus, do the laundry, and then lie around and read. I write – a little. I read some more. I write a little more. I start dinner. I take the time to do household chores just to keep from feeling house-bound. I do all kinds of things.

All kinds of things, except market my business. Marketing still puts chills down my back just as surely as a well-aimed snowball.

But, not actually marketing is letting the snow storm defeat me.

The Cure for the Snow House-Bound

In places that aren’t used to snow (Oregon’s Willamette Valley, for example), many brick-and-mortar businesses are closed. Cars are stuck. People go home (or stayed home). Prospective clients are home. So?

So, I need to market to them anyway! Where else do I have a near-captive audience?

The business world isn’t hampered with the cold, white fluff. After all, they use computers and the Internet. They’re tools for getting business, regardless of the weather or the location of the business. Unless those two things go down, business people – my prospects among them – are likely still working. Without worrying about the snow. They aren’t catching up, but keeping up; they’re staying on top of their game.

Well, except those who are avidly attached to watching the Olympic games.

What does this mean for me as a writer? I, too, need to go to work. Not catching up, but keeping up. I have a pipeline of prospects to keep filled. After all, wouldn’t I be working if it wasn’t snowing? I still use the computer and Internet. Since theyre both working, why aren’t I marketing?

I’m letting the current snow storm defeat my marketing efforts:

Using the Snowy Day to Market Better

What better way to use a snow day? The Internet is up and running in my home. So, this is what I’ll do:

  • Perfect my Letters of Introduction, for both snail mail and email
  • Write and send warm emails to those NPOs and companies I’m interested in working with.
  • Design and print out postcards, stamp them, and then send them as soon as I can get to the mail slot in my neighborhood cluster-mailbox (those metal things that replaced individual mailboxes at houses)

Yes, a lot of the outside world is covered with snow. (It’s now turning to freezing rain even as I write this.) But, that simply means I have a chance to concentrate on my marketing.

Helping You Solve Your Problem is My Business

Let me help you solve the other half of the problem!

You Know Youre a Writer When

For all writers of the pro and amateur stage of life.

Originally posted on Kristen Lambs Blog:

We’ve been talking about some heavy stuff the past several posts, so I figured it was time for a bit of levity. We writers are different *eye twitches* for sure, but the world would be SO boring without us.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You’ve learned that regular people are cute, and no longer get offended with this conversation.

Regular Person: What do you do?

Writer: I’m a writer.

Regular Person: No, I mean, what’s your real job?

You’ve come to understand that writers are a lot like unicorns. Everyone knows about them, they’ve simply never seen a REAL ONE.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

The NSA, CIA and FBI no longer bother with you. Likely, they know you by name and now outsource to the creepy ice cream truck to just make a few passes and check to make sure you’re still at your computer.

Merry Christmas, My Friends!

Merry Christmas, My Friends!