Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My latest wine articles on CrushBrew

I'm a contributing writer to a craft beverage digital publication called CrushBrew.com. This is my "fun" writing and I love learning about wine and beer, and the research has been fascinating.

A huge thanks to Phil and Heather Burton at Barrel Builders who kindly shared their expertise and knowledge about barrel making. It was an interesting topic and I learned a lot about coopering and how wine barrels are made.

I also had fun learning more about the growing trends of the new and improved rosé wines aka #summerwater. Big thanks to Michael Croteaux of Croteaux Vineyards and Michael Duarte of Popie Wines who shared their rosé winemaking knowledge with me.  If you have any questions about these articles, just let me know! Also, make sure to check out CrushBrew.com because they have a ton of awesome articles about the craft beer and boutique wine industries...and we've added a new category for distilled spirits.


Coopering: The Art & Craft of Barrel Making 

Summer's Favorite Beverage 

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Contractual Agreement: Why It's Important to Read & Understand the Fine Print

Hi folks!
It's been awhile since I posted on my blog. I had the flu twice and then caught a cold and was buried in a challenging book editing project. No excuses though! I'm back to blogging on a regular basis so stay tuned!

One of the biggest questions I get from newbie solopreneurs and freelance writers is about contracts. I pride myself on being very specific with my proposals and contracts, but I still work with clients who don't have experience "reading and understanding" the fine print of a basic contract. I've learned a few lessons recently about being VERY clear and specific with clients when they agree to project parameters, deadlines, etc.

Here are some personal tips I want to pass along if you create a contract OR if you're on the other side and need to sign a contract. Please note: I am NOT a lawyer and the tips below are based on my own personal experiences as a freelance copywriter who works on contract with my clients. Always check with a professional attorney for legal assistance before signing a legal contract. 


1. If you plan to work with a contractor or a contracted company/agency, ALWAYS sign a contractual agreement. Depending upon the scope of the project, most contractual (work-for-hire) agreements are fairly basic. However, if the language sounds like mumbo-jumbo hire a lawyer to review the contract before you sign anything.

2. Make sure deadlines, your rates, and the scope of the project are crystal clear before you sign on the dotted line. I ran into some issues with deadlines with this last project which was very frustrating on my end. Also, don't assume the other person understands the terms of your agreement. Run through the proposal with them and make sure they understand ALL the details, payment structure (especially if it's a long-term/extended contract), and your project responsibilities. This will save you a lot of hassle and legal trouble down the road.

3. If the other contracted party does NOT follow through on their agreed upon responsibilities and duties, you may have just cause to terminate the contract. If you run into issues with a client (or the contractor) and they fail to do what they agreed to do, you may be able to terminate the contract. Make sure to include a rescission clause (aka termination for convenience clause) that allows the contract to be ended. The rescinding party has to compensate the other party for work already completed. However, check with a lawyer before you terminate a contract, especially if you aren't sure. You usually need to have a justifiable reason for ending a contract. For example, if the products or services aren't delivered according to the agreed upon contractual parameters, or the contracting party delivers shoddy products or gives you poor service.

The Scoop on Non-Disclosure Agreements

As a copywriter and editor, I've signed a few of these agreements throughout my career. A non-disclosure agreement is also known as a confidentiality agreement. Basically, you agree not to share any proprietary information or trade/company secrets and if you do, you could be in hot water. If you aren't sure about signing a non-disclosure agreement, check with a lawyer.

Just be very careful when signing a contract. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of scammer companies out there who might be trying to make a quick buck off you so just be wary and do your research. Ask for references and testimonials before you hire the contractor or work with the company. When in doubt, hire a lawyer to review the contract before signing. 

Additional resources:
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/contractors-freelancers
http://freelancetofreedomproject.com/dont-get-screwed-freelance-contracts-legal-stuff-you-cant-ignore/





Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Wine, Wine & More Wine: My Placer County Wine Article Featured on CrushBrew

I had a lot of fun writing this article featuring my stomping grounds: local Placer County wineries. Check it out, especially if you want to learn more about the great wines and boutique wineries in northern California!

http://crushbrew.com/placer-county-wineries-award-winning-californias-map

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy Election Day!

Hope you get out and vote today. As a female voter, I feel it's very important that we exercise our right to vote. The suffragettes fought long and hard so women could have the right to vote!

If you live in the U.S., get out there and vote today!

Happy Election Day! Let's use our voices and make that vote count! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

5 Easy Marketing Tips for Personal Trainers and Fitness Instructors

A fitness business, especially if you are a personal trainer or fitness instructor, can be difficult to market. I'm a Certified Zumba Instructor so I know it can be tough to spread the word about your classes. 

These five easy online marketing tips will help you get started with your personal training and fitness business. It doesn't matter if you are a newbie instructor or have years of fitness experience under your belt, you need to jump on board and use online tools and social media to your advantage.

1. Create a Facebook page - First, sign up for Facebook (if you don't have an account) and create a Facebook page. Make sure you don't create a Group. You want to create a professional business page on Facebook. Invite your friends to sign up or pass along to your students and clients who are on Facebook. Make sure you connect to everyone you know but remember don't spam everyone either. 

2. Interact on fitness-related Facebook pages - Search for other personal training and fitness sites. For example, if you are a yoga instructor connect with other local yoga networks or instructors in your area. If you work for a gym or fitness center, like their page and ask permission from the owners/managers if you can promote your classes on their page (if they don't market your classes already). 

3. Join LinkedIn and start networking - Are you a personal fitness trainer who works exclusively with stressed-out business professionals? Think outside the box. Join LinkedIn and look for groups that are in need of personal training/fitness instructors. It also helps to join industry fitness and health groups on LinkedIn. This is a great way to share and swap marketing ideas. Just remember to be courteous and professional when interacting on LinkedIn groups.  

4. Post on Twitter  - Twitter is another great social media platform to cross promote your classes and personal training services. Use hashtags, especially if you want to catch the attention of local people who'd be interested in what you have to offer. 

5. Search online for guest blogging and interview opportunities - One of the best ways to promote yourself online is to share your fitness expertise. Use social media to network or conduct a Google search to find health and fitness-related guest blogger opportunities. Sign up for Help a Reporter Out.  Reporters and freelance writers are always looking for fitness experts for their stories. If you have a specific fitness niche, this will make you even more marketable. 

Word-of-mouth marketing will only get you so far so start spreading the word about your fitness business online. Best of luck! If you need more helpful hints and tips, please search my past blog posts that go into more detail about social media marketing and online reputation tips. 


Friday, May 2, 2014

Spruce Up Your Brand: Why It's Time to Change Your Office Design & Decor

My mom and I went for much-needed pedicures this week. She told me that the nail salon we frequent completely changed their decor and theme of the salon. I was looking forward to checking out their renovation!

The change was night and day. They went with a relaxing beach/Hawaii theme and it looked amazing. I felt like I was really in a spa instead of a stinky, chemical-smelling run-of-the mill nail joint. Their pedicure chairs are really comfy (love the chair massage!), and the colors and design are very soothing and relaxing. I felt like I went on a short mini-spa-cation. The salon didn't have any personality before but after this updated design renovation, it really boosted their salon's brand and look (complete with new signage).

I work from home so when I have meetings with clients, I usually go to their office or meet them for lunch or coffee. However, if you do have an office space, look around your surroundings right now.

What does your decor and design say about your brand? Is it warm and inviting for your clients and employees? Does it truly reflect your brand's personality?

You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on a brand new office renovation but even a fresh coat of paint could do wonders for the look and feel of your work/office space. If you meet with clients on a regular basis and your office is blah and uninviting, you are sending the completely wrong impression to clients. You want to provide a comfortable space for your clients and your employees. Also, if you and your employees feel comfortable working in a warm, spacious office, I have a strong feeling that your productivity will probably increase!

Check out these additional business/office design tips:
http://www.businessdictionary.com/article/452/office-design-to-foster-innovation/
http://www.houzz.com/photos/home-office
http://ios-inc.com/office-design-tips-to-promote-creativity/





Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Webinar Experience Gone Wrong: How to Blow Up Your Sales Funnel With One Word

Webinar Etiquette 101...and It Doesn't Involve Cuss Words

It's been awhile since I participated in a webinar and thought I'd get back into the saddle and sign up for a digital trends webinar. I won't disclose the company's name because I don't want to give them any publicity whatsoever. The data they were presenting sounded interesting and I'm always doing market research. As a copywriter and content strategist for a boutique marketing agency, I'm always looking to hone my skills and knowledge and stay on top of digital and tech trends.

I received a few reminder emails in my in-box yesterday morning so I thought the webinar was starting right then and there! I hurried to log into the webinar and the "started" button was lit up for the webinar. I assumed that the webinar had already started. As soon as I logged into the webinar, the first thing I heard out of the presenter's mouth was the F bomb. Now this isn't a fly-by-night training company either. They have international offices and their clients include Google and big-name PR agencies. I actually know people who work for these agencies and for Google.

I was completely turned off and disgusted that a professional would use such language in a webinar. I immediately contacted the webinar coordinator via email and told him I was appalled and not to send me any more information about their webinars. I explained that as soon as I logged into the webinar, the only thing I heard was F bombs being dropped. Beyond tacky and completely unprofessional. IF I had a presenter who swore like a truck driver on MY webinar, they would never be asked back.

So the story gets even more interesting...I logged in while they were having a meeting and he was getting his presentation ready. He said it wasn't defensible but he forgot to turn his mic off. Rule #1 when conducting a webinar: turn OFF your mic if you don't want people to hear you OR don't make the webinar go live until the scheduled time!!

I will give the company credit for promptly replying to my email about what happened. The company rep apologized and said they were "mortified." No doubt, they should be mortified...and doing everything they can to repair the damage. They encouraged me to listen to the webinar and assured me that the presenter was professional. I'm not a complete ogre and I know things happen in the heat of the moment so I gave the webinar presenter another chance. I actually was impressed with the webinar and the data presented and even asked a question. Ironically, I was the only one who showed up online for the webinar. I don't know if other people listened in via the phone.

Even though I was annoyed after what transpired, I pride myself on being a consummate professional and I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. I appreciated the fact that the account manager did his best to smooth things over with me. I was exactly the demographic they needed to target, and I could have been a potential client. "Could" being the key word. I'm not interested in their services anymore!

But here's the kicker of this webinar gone wrong...

This morning I received a recording and slides of the presentation which the VP was nice enough to send me. I couldn't believe he had the gall to PITCH me their training services in that email. Really, you're going to try and peddle your services to me after what happened? What part of "your fellow employee dropped the F bomb and totally offended me" did this company NOT understand?

I thought to myself: this company really can't be THIS disconnected, can they? Obviously, they missed the communication memo with me somewhere. Yes, I gave them positive feedback about the webinar and liked the data but I never said, hey, please send me more information about your services!

After that happened, there is no way on this planet I would ever hire this company to train ME on how to better engage with MY clients via digital and social media strategies. They can't even engage properly with me in a positive way. I feel like I should be training THEM on how NOT to write down-your-throat sales pitches after you piss off a webinar participant. They threw me a bone with a freebie but I don't even care at this point.

This was my first experience with their brand/company and despite their apologies, that lame attempt at a a sales pitch slammed down my throat was the kicker and turned me off completely. I will say it again, and cannot stress this enough when it comes to reputation management and brand marketing. First impressions make a lasting impression and this company made a lasting impression on me...a negative, offensive one that can't be repaired. 












Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

Content Writing & Marketing Tips ** Online Buzz Branding

** Digital & Social Media Strategies