Optimize Online Content for Voice Search

The thing about internet technology is that we’re always playing catch-up.  First, we researched and identified the best key words for our products and services as we introduced Search Engine Optimization to our websites and eventually, our social media postings.  Next, we hired a web developer to add the responsive design capability to our websites, so that they would download correctly into smartphones and tablets.

It appears that for our latest update, we must ensure that we’re using long-tailed key words, i.e. phrases, that will capture the voice activated searches of Siri and Alexa. Adweek reports that 67 million voice assisted devices will be in use in the U.S. before this year ends and that’s your motivation to seed your online content with phrases most likely to be recognized by A.I. enabled searches.

But let’s begin at the beginning—have you made any voice activated searches? If not, then try it out and make note of what you say.  The next time that you listen to iHeart Radio, grab your iPhone and ask “Siri, play Michael Jackson.” Or speak to your Android and ask, “Alexa, order us a half gallon of milk and a box of Fig Newtons.”

Notice that words such as where, find, order, how, who and where are often used in voice searches and you will be wise to include those words when you update your content for voice search optimization.  As well, keep in mind that voice searches are often used when the prospect is in motion and typing is inconvenient, for example, when walking or driving.

Voice search requires us to adjust our thinking (again!) to that of a potential customer and not of a business owner or marketer.  What questions might a prospect ask when looking for information about your particular expertise? “Siri, find me architects in Philadelphia that do over kitchens and baths.” “Alexa, who are web developers in Tulsa that can create a new website for me?” “Who can help me plan the company meeting we’ll hold in Milwaukee in October of this year?” “Where can I find a dog walker near me in Natchez?”

Voice search key word phrases are like a conversation and your online content should respond in kind.  Your newsletters, blog posts, FAQs page, white papers, case studies and descriptions of your products and services are ideal places to embed phrases that resemble prospect questions that are likely to be asked in voice searches.

Your prospective customers do not use industry-speak buzzwords such as leverage, growth hack, synergy, visionary, or disruptive.  Is it not time to purge those words anyway? Your prospects are looking for answers, so give them the answers in everyday words that everyone uses.  KISS–keep it simple, stupid—as you update your content to answer basic questions, including facts such as the products your organization sells, the services provided, the address of your business if customers can be expected to come in and the opening and closing times.

Thanks for reading,


Photograph: Taping Gang Busters, the “only national (radio) program that brings you authentic police case histories.” The program was broadcast from January 1936 – November 1957.


Common Challenges That Impact Solopreneur Ventures

Starting a business is an impressive achievement that’s guaranteed to make you proud, but the real victory lies in your ability to grow and sustain the venture.  A Solopreneur business owner must be both leader and manager, competencies that seldom co-exist within the same person.

Leadership skills support your ability to formulate a guiding vision for your enterprise, recognize business opportunities, devise strategies, find new customers and develop marketing plans, as well as inspire potential investors, collaborators and employees.

Management skills direct your  focus to administrative functions, as well as business operations, financial management, risk management, quality control and customer service.

While it’s recommended that Solopreneurs cultivate both skill sets, it’s probably inevitable that the average person will favor one competency over the other.  Nevertheless, it is important to hone both leadership and managerial capabilities so that you are better prepared to position the venture to overcome the challenges that visit every business, regardless of industry, annual sales revenue, or number of employees.  Discussed below are two of the five common business challenges that we’ll examine.


How many active clients are on your roster? How many do you bill at least $1000/ month, on average? I completely understand that for a Solopreneur, every client counts and that it’s so comfortable to provide services to just one or two clients who are generous with billable hours.

However, succeeding in business means pushing beyond comfort level and actively discouraging one’s tendency to become complacent. Furthermore, depending on one or two big clients for the lion’s share of annual revenue places the business in a vulnerable position.

What will happen to your billable hours if your contact at that company moves on? There can be no guarantee that the next person will continue to send projects your way.  Be advised that the new person has Solopreneur friends with whom s/he has previously worked and it’s reasonable to believe that it will be game over for someone who’s thought to have ridden the gravy train for a number of years.

Demonstrate your leadership skills and protect your venture as you pursue potential prospects to nurture your sales pipeline.  A diversified active client list is an insurance policy.  Furthermore, growing your list of viable prospects encourages you to operate as a real Solopreneur and not just a sub-contractor for a larger entity.


Early in the life cycle of a business, the most important money matter is simply to earn enough to pay the bills, for the business and your personal life.  On the next rung, you’ll begin to consider the amount of investment capital needed to finance upgrades that will make you and the company appear more competent and trustworthy to clients, prospects and referring colleagues and friends.

The company website must have a professional look and download quickly.  Printed marketing materials must reinforce the superior quality of your brand and communicate your expertise.  Even the look of your invoice matters.  You’ll also need enough revenue to occasionally attend conferences to upgrade your skills and expand your networking options.

BTW, to promote a predictable cash flow, it is not uncommon for Soloprenuers to take a job, whether it’s an under the radar gig such as  bartending or waitressing, or a more typical opportunity such as teaching, where one’s professional skills are parlayed into an arena other than the usual client work.

Unless you have a background in finance, consulting with a good accountant and/ or bookkeeper is the best way to ensure that your venture has astute financial management.  Meet quarterly with a bookkeeper and semi-annually with the accountant to learn how to take the necessary steps to strengthen your business finances.

I’ll return to discuss more common business challenges.

Merry Christmas and thanks for reading,


Photograph: Members of the Acorda Capoeira perform on a roof top in Rio de Janeiro (July 2016)

Can You Bring Blockchain into Your Business?

The technology known as Blockchain has received loads of attention in the business and tech press over the past three years or so but until recently, I never understood what it and never thought it would apply to me, anyway. Blockchain is for the big guys, right? Not really. The benefits of Blockchain play to many audiences.

Before we go any further, let’s understand what Blockchain is. Blockchain is a record-keeping ledger that is accessible only to its participating creators. Blockchain is also the ultimate permanent record because information entered into a Blockchain document cannot be deleted and will be stored forever. Registered participants may enter new data into the Blockchain ledger to update it, but nothing can be deleted.

Blockchain data is secure and permanent and each document entered into the network has an unique software code. Once the document is triggered, that’s it—the document is forever locked down. If it becomes necessary to make substantive changes, one must start over with a new Blockchain document.

Companies that deliver complex services or offer a wide array of products that are purchased from numerous sources are a natural fit for Blockchain. Think of retail operations that order inventory from overseas manufacturers. Cultural business practices, language differences and the processes of ordering, shipping, payment and confirming arrival of the goods creates many opportunities for the ball to be dropped. Blockchain enables all parties to monitor in real time every action-oriented element in a contract and can even link payments to meeting milestones that demonstrate fulfillment of terms.

Freelancers, professional service providers and small business owners can also find practical uses for Blockchain technology. For example, the Blockchain Smart Contract has potential for broad usage. Your Smart Contract is registered with the network and legally cleared as a valid agreement. Each point of agreement specified in the contract, e.g., the scope of work, milestones, deadlines and the invoicing schedule, is then automated and when fulfilled, that element is triggered and recorded as complete. That achievement allows any incentives connected to its fulfillment to be approved and awarded.

Let’s say that you contract to write a certain number of social media posts for a client. When your post is received by the client, or when you’ve uploaded it to the the client’s account, your Blockchain Smart Contract will signal that you are eligible to be paid for your work and you will not need to send an invoice to request payment. What a relief!

Blockchain can simplify and speed accounts receivable payments and as a result, enhance your cash-flow. Moreover, if you hold client credit card information that is used for automated payments, the information will be super- secure in the Blockchain network. Clients will feel more confident when doing business with you when you deliver your services with cutting-edge efficiency that includes an added layer of protection for their financial information. In other words, Blockchain is a brand and customer service enhancer.

For more information on how to set up Smart Contracts for your important projects, visit https://applicature.com/smart-contracts-development/. Plan on $500 for reusable Smart Contract development.

Thanks for reading,

Image: “Signing the Marriage Contract” (1905) by George Sheridan Knowles (private collection)

Machine Learning: Coming To A Freelancer Near You

Machine learning is a ground breaking technology that uses Artificial Intelligence to allow computer systems to automatically “learn” from the patterns of the user’s online browsing choices, without the need to program the system to do so.  Many of us became familiar with AI and machine learning through movie choices offered to us on Netflix or music on iHeartRadio.  Think also of the Digital Personal Assistants Siri and Amazon Alexa, other applications of AI and machine learning that many have embraced.  Machine learning focuses on developing computer programs that can access data, analyze that data (to find patterns) and then use that information to “learn.”

Machine learning and AI are slowly filtering down the food chain from global and national corporations to regional operations.  Start-up entrepreneurs are launching enterprises that employ machine learning and early adopter Freelance consultants will soon be able to incorporate machine learning beyond what we may already be doing with Siri and Netflix.  In particular, marketing is poised to become a primary utilization of the technology, in businesses of every size.

About a year or two ago, you noticed that when you visited a particular website and then returned to Facebook, LinkedIn, or your chosen online homepage, an ad from the site you visited would soon pop up and tempt you with an offer.  The phenomenon is called “real-time” by marketing specialists and it’s driven by the data that your browsing history generates via machine learning and AI.  It’s a manifestation of being responsive to a potential customers’ interests as a way to fill the sales funnel and facilitate a sale.

To take AI and machine learning a few steps closer to ordinary mortals on planet Earth, these tools are uniquely suited to B2B marketing, because they limit the (costly) trial-and-error activities that haunt every online or off-line marketing campaign.  Now, your marketing activities, whether presented in an online display ad, social media posts, or content marketing outreach, will be seen by those whose online searches indicate that they are likely to be interested in exploring your products and services.

Machine learning, augmented by AI, will allow marketing specialists to greatly reduce the wasteful expenditures inherent in every marketing budget and direct those valuable dollars toward self-qualified leads who have a much greater potential to become paying customers.  Your marketing campaigns cannot help but become more cost-effective whether online or offline, print ads in traditional publications, banner ads on individually targeted websites, social media posts, or email marketing.

Speaking of social media posts, machine learning allows marketing specialists to monitor trending topics on various platforms, i.e., topics that currently resonate with particular market segments.  Certain of those memes can become the basis of content for blogs, newsletters, email marketing and other promotional activities.

Finally, let’s circle back to what machine learning has been doing for Netflix and iHeartRadio, which in marketing speak is called demand forecasting.  When movie and music choices are offered to you, the goal is to give you what you want before you know you want it.  Current algorithms are doing a pretty good job of doing that now, but more sophisticated algorithms are in development, with predicting accuracy refined by machine learning and AI.  What is offered will still be a guess and just a suggestion, but for many of us, at least once in a while, we’ll receive an offer that we cannot refuse.

Thanks for reading,


display.png   Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photograph: Jean Jennings (l) and Frances Bilas programming ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the first large-scale computer to run at electronic speed   Courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania (1946)

AI and U: Bye, Bye Billables

The trouble hasn’t trickled down to us middle grade Freelance consultants or small boutique consulting companies yet,  mostly because we are not servicing Fortune 500 C-Suite clients, but apparently, the Artificial Intelligence phenomenon is being positioned to impact in particular the high-end management consultants and not for the better.  Eventually, our comparatively modest stratum will be touched as well, depending on the services that your consultancy provides.  I’ve got no love for the consulting giants Bain and McKinsey, but I’m worried by this trend.

AI is already at work, automating routine tasks such as maintaining calendars, but it is now poised to support decision-making functions in HR, marketing, finance (budgeting) and resource allocation.  It seems safe to say that AI will in the near future be used as a strategic planning tool.

According to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. businesses spent $58.7 billion on management consulting services in 2016, a 7.1% increase over 2015, and the bulk of the business was generated by the financial services industry.  The primary expertise of high-end management consultants is data analysis and presentation and facilitating long-range strategic planning.  It is becoming obvious that AI can execute many functions as well as an elite consultant, and can perform more accurately, faster and at a fraction of the cost of a consultant’s billable rate.

Do you have an iPad or iPhone? Then you are part of the AI revolution yourself whenever you ask voice-activated Siri to give you directions or show you the lunch menu at a new restaurant.  Alexa, the AI voice-activated digital personal assistant app for your tablet or smart phone developed by Amazon, will already allow you to control your smart home features such as lighting, heating/ air conditioning and keyless entry for your doors.  Presently, Alexa has the capability to answer economic questions for clients of the Swiss global financial services giant UBS Group AG.  The Wall Street Journal reported that Alexa will answer UBS client queries by using information provided by its chief investment office.  Alexa is expected to soon begin analyzing markets and may also be used to buy and sell stocks.

Meanwhile Boston-based Blackrock, the financial planning and investment management outfit, which happens to be the world’s largest asset management firm, used by institutions and individuals, is rolling out computer-driven algorithms and models in a move toward management by smart machines, that is, employing passive management rather than active management of their funds.  In other words, a machine will become the asset manager of Blackrock’s funds and not human, salary, bonus and benefits receiving employees.

Like the 1992 candidate for president Ross Perot predicted, that sucking sound you hear is your job going out the window.  The middle class is about to shrink some more.  Happy Labor Day.

Thanks for reading,


Photograph of Lost in Space, the CBS-TV series 1965 – 1968                                                          Jonathan Harris (as Dr. Smith) and the robot

Staying Safe on Public WiFi

Public Wi-Fi is a most convenient resource and millions of mobile device users gratefully sign on when it is available.  Data plans are more costly in the U.S. than they should be and avoiding extra charges motivates users to dip into free service.  Not only that, your Skype, Go-To-Meeting, Dropbox, or Twitter app can use local hotspots to obtain internet access even if you do not sign on to unsecured public Wi-Fi.

File sharing and transfers are performed on several apps and that data can be intercepted.  Moreover, log-in credentials can be stolen, allowing cyber criminals to fully access your private accounts.  When using the internet as your phone service, eavesdropping on conversations can take place through the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP).  If you are using a mobile device that belongs to a business, signing on to unsecured Wi-Fi networks gives hackers are able to access the networks of large organizations and do significant, costly and embarrassingly public damage.

Mobile device users are obliged to pay attention to this commonly occurring risk and take steps to protect our valuable data.  No one wants to clean up the toxic mess of a data breach, whether it’s malware that infects our data files or compromises of your financial account passwords. Antivirus protections and firewalls are effective methods of cyber defense, but these are useless against hackers that hide on unsecured Wi-Fi networks.


  • Convert all password protected sites, such as your cloud-based email sign-in process, to two-step authentication.  For one email address, I receive an automated phone call that asks me to verify that I’m signing in, another sends me a unique code to punch in once I’ve verified via my mobile phone that I’m signing into the email system.
  • Use a VPN, virtual private network, that will encrypt all of your online activities.
  • Visit only https and avoid http websites when browsing on public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Purchase an unlimited data plan for your mobile phone, which for that device anyway, limits the need for free, unsecured Wi-Fi that makes you vulnerable.
  • Consider being especially strict and shutting off the automatic Wi-Fi network search feature from the settings app on your phone or tablet.


  • Use your credit card to shop online or access your financial institution for automatic deposits, fund transfers, or any other banking business while using free Wi-Fi.
  • Connect to the hotspot of an unknown individual when searching for available public Wi-Fi.  That hotspot may belong to a cyber criminal who is waiting to do you harm.
  • Enable your device to automatically join networks that offer internet access.

Thanks for reading,






Unlock the Answers Buried in Your Website

You may be contemplating giving your website a makeover and to ensure that you include the information that prospective clients desire most before you invest time and money on the project,  you’re smart enough to collect data that will serve as your site blueprint.  You want to confirm the role of your website—how much and what kind of information will persuade prospects to pursue follow-up? Reports that indicate how visitors interact with the site are the only way to examine, consider and interpret visitor behavior and then make adjustments in the site if needed.

Google Analytics will do that job and at no charge.  Google Analytics is a most useful service that helps one to find out who visits the website, the pages that receive the most visits, the length of those visits and actions taken while on a page.

1. Acquisition

Where do site visitors come from? Are you receiving referrals from search engines, your social media accounts, or other websites where you’ve contracted to maintain a link to your website?

2. Behavior

What are visitors to your site doing? Behavior Analytics show the pages visited, the    length of time spent on each and how visitors travel through your site. You’ll learn the content that visitors value most and least.

3. Conversion

Do sales take place on your site? Do visitors sign up to receive your newsletter or blog?

4. Goals

You can create conversion metrics to track actions such as sales and registrations for a class or webinar you will give, participation in a survey, or sign-ups for your blog or newsletter.  As a brand reinforcing grace note, you may create thank you pages to acknowledge actions taken (because positive reinforcement matters!).

5. In-page analytics

Find out the percentage of visitors who clicked on links or buttons on specific pages.

6. Key performance Indicators

If you’ve developed the milestones called Key Performance Indicators that identify each noteworthy action that leads to achievement of your goal, you can monitor them.

7. Mobile

I assume that a healthy percentage of Internet users are working from a mobile device. Find out that percentage and have it in mind when you design your new site or post new content.  Make visits to your site mobile friendly.

8.  Overview

Each section of Google Analytics offers an overview report, which presents high-level data that enables you to make a basic status report of that segment of your site.

9. Queries

This gives the search engine optimization report and lets you know the keyword rankings and click-throughs for your site.


Here you’ll find five ways to see the data of any of your reports.

11. Web property ID

FYI, the web property ID is the tracking code that identifies your website with a 7 digit number, followed by the 2 digit property number.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that after putting up a website in 2007, I’ve only just signed up with Google Analytics this month.  What took me so long? I look forward with anticipation to reading and interpreting my website reports.

Thanks for reading,





Time to Redesign Your Website?

Have you become disappointed with your website, or are you merely bored? Have you been visiting the websites of your colleagues and contemporaries and thinking about how you may want to do a website makeover? Think carefully about your goals before making a decision.

What would I like the site to do for my business?

Ultimately, a website gives information about your products and services and communicates how doing business with you can benefit those who would become your customers. Your job is to develop a website that gives prospects the confidence to explore more seriously the idea of working with you. Whatever is on your site—text, audio, or visual—must support that action.

Older websites are likely to be static, rather than interactive. That means in order to update the site with new information, it’s necessary to pay a web developer to make  changes in text, photos, videos and lay-out. As a result, static websites often do not reflect much of what is happening now.

Some Freelancers depend upon their websites to pre-qualify prospects through the use of an online contact form.  Rather than posting your email and telephone number on the “contact us” page, there is instead a form for interested parties to complete, so that they will receive a call-back. Serious shoppers only, please!

Content marketing will be featured on the website.  Freelancers who produce a weekly blog or monthly newsletter typically include the link on their website.  Your social media platforms will likewise be accessible through your website, as will videos, webinars and podcasts that feature you in a starring or supporting role.  Case studies to help prospective clients envision how your insights and expertise might help their organization resolve challenges and achieve goals may be posted to the site as well.

How is my site under-performing?

Much depends upon the information you’d like your website to provide to interested parties. Your site can be a one-page affair that is basically an online business card.  You may list three or four services, a photo,  a 3-minute video clip of you in action (or not) and contact info and that may be quite enough to convince prospects that you are a capable professional worthy of consideration.  But maybe you would like to have a much more active and engaging site?

Up-to-date products and services list

If you’ve substantively altered—simplified, upgraded, expanded, or eliminated— the services and products that you provide, let your website reflect what is current.  As well, old content and photos might be replaced and updated with an accurate depiction of how you bring value to clients today.

Can I accurately measure how prospects respond to my site?

This step can be the key to your website design.  If you are serious about updating your site,  contact an analytics service and sign up to obtain data that will guide the development of your website.  There are a number of modestly priced website analytics services available and Google has a level that offers free analytics. Collect three or four months of data before you act.

To begin with, you’ll learn how many visitors the site receives each month and the pages that are most often visited. Now you’ll know what visitors want to know. You’ll also learn which pages are least often visited and if there are pages that are quickly abandoned for other pages, or seem to cause visitors to exit your site.  If you decide to update your website, ask your developer to build-in analytics or integration features, so that data will be yours at no extra charge, post-upgrade.

Is the site mobile-friendly? 

I write or edit three newsletters and the analytics for each consistently shows that about 50% of readers use mobile devices (smart phone or tablet) to read them. The other half use either desk models or laptops. Don’t frustrate your visitors,  make sure that your site is optimized for mobile.  Both interactive and static websites can be mobile optimized.

How’s the technology?

Recently, I met a truly brilliant MIT educated web developer named Al.  He showed me the site of a nationally known not-for-profit organization that on its website has an inoperable “donate now” button on the landing page.  It is imperative that all links and buttons on your website perform as intended on all types of devices.  Audio features must produce sound; videos must play; documents must download; ecommerce transactions must be secure.

“About us”

Trot out your brand story.  Connect with site visitors and concisely tell them what motivated you to start your business, how you developed your expertise, your vision and the company mission.  Share your guiding principles as the founder and business leader and discuss how that is reflected in your business practices.  Finally, let it be known that you love what you do and value the opportunity to work with clients. Recommended length of the text might be 200 words.

Thanks for reading,


Publish or Perish

Today, Friends, I have for you the wild and wooly tale that will explain why I have not posted for the last four weeks,  after reaching out to you every single Tuesday since I opened this blog in June 2009.  Be advised that I was not in Sardinia living la dolce vita.  I’ll present the tale in chapters, since the action centers on writing.

Chapter  One opens on July 12.  I was ready to publish bright and early at 8:00 AM,  when I discovered that I could not access my account.  Wordpress had locked me out.  Neither could I reset my password, because it’s connected to an email account that has been overstuffed with messages for two years and frozen by the provider until I get ambitious and do some deleting.

A frantic search of the forums brought me to an email address wherein I could access a live person and learn why my blog was locked. I was told that in 2012 (!), LinkedIn had a data breach (I remember being asked to change that account password),  so four years later WordPress leaps into action and shuts down all WordPress members who have LinkedIn accounts (millions, I would imagine).

When I politely asked why WordPress members who affiliate with LinkedIn simply did not receive an email to advise us to adjust our passwords within, say, the next two logins to prevent being locked out, I received no answer.  Oh, and if I couldn’t access the appropriate email account, I could always refer back to the original URL link to this blog that is contained in an email that was sent to me by WordPress seven years ago.  Find a seven-year old email? Are they serious?

So there I was, with a post all ready for you, Friend, and no way to publish.  Apparently, the folks at WordPress felt it would be fun to lock the account on publishing day  (and I’m certain that was by design; now you know why I hate techies).  But maybe my blocked WordPress account was a blessing in disguise, because since early June, I’ve been immersed in a book editing project that has taken over my life and that opens Chapter Two.

The book is about a women’s club that is celebrating its 125th anniversary.  The author, a club member,  is an academic who’s written in the neighborhood of two dozen books. The book tells the history of the club against the backdrop of certain social, economic and political events that happened since its founding in 1890: the Gilded Age (think of today’s billionaires and income inequality); the Progressive Age (a reaction to the Gilded Age; think Bernie Sanders’ run for the presidency); the fight for women’s suffrage (a woman running for president); and the rise of women’s colleges and clubs (Lean In ). I was brought in to be the photo editor, but I was as well the de facto developmental editor and copy editor, because the book needed both and there was no one else to do it.  This is a self-publishing project.

In Chapter Three, I take on the role of publisher in addition to being three editors rolled into one.  The club is the official publisher in this venture,  but guess who’s done all the publishing house work? I even wore the hat of literary lawyer when on the fourth Saturday of July,  I sat at my computer reading up on intellectual property and copyright law and then ordered those two long sets of numbers that legally must appear on the copyright page of every book published, plus the bar code.  I also submitted the book to the Library of Congress (that is usually done before publication, so that you get to list the catalogue number on the title page) and two days later was so happy to learn that the title was accepted.

Chapter Four is the tale of my various editing functions.  I learned that developmental editing is surgery: get into those sentences and paragraphs and realign or remove until the story is a good one and flows smoothly.  Copy editing (and its little sister, proofreading) ensures that sentence structure is correct and spelling and punctuation are accurate.  Photo editing entails finding photos for the book that illustrate and support the story and then submitting them to the author for approval.

No, Friend, I was most definitely not sunning and swimming in Sardinia with the beautiful people.  Instead,  I was Googling the names of historical figures who were named in the book and filling in quick descriptions of who they were, so that readers could better understand the story the author wanted to tell because the author, a history writer, apparently didn’t feel that such explanations were necessary.

I also searched for the given names of some two dozen women mentioned in the book who were known only as Mrs. HIM (as the author puts it).  Why the author neglected to give proper credit to those amazing trailblazing women,  I’ll never understand. There were only two names that I could not find: Mrs. Clarence Burns,  a well-bred, high-achieving lady who once lived at 1 West 83rd Street in Manhattan and who in 1903 wrote a cheeky little article entitled Prominent Clubwomen Must be Good Housekeepers  that appeared in Collier’s Magazine.

The other unnamed woman was Madame (de) Sumichrast, one half of a social-climbing couple who were leaders of the Victorian Club of Boston (him) and the Victorian League in London (her).  The surname they shared was originally Sumichrast,  but they saw fit to add the  “de”  when he was named to the faculty of Harvard University’s French Department.

Madame de Sumichrast lectured in French literature at least once at Harvard, meaning that she was a highly educated woman,  but she must have felt it proper for a wife to subsume her identity in deference to her husband’s,  as did Mrs. Burns.  So frustrating, so sad.  Not even the magnificent Sophia Smith Library at Smith College, which has a comprehensive collection of information on women’s organizations, was able to uncover the identities of those two women.

However, a librarian at the Sophia Smith Collection most generously found and sent to me a 1905 photo of the officers of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, three of whose members were founders of the club that is the subject of the book.  What an excellent photo it is,  one of  nine superb vintage photos that I brought to the book in my role as photo editor.

Chapter Five, like the first chapter, holds frustration.  Wordpress is the villain of Chapter One and the book’s author is the antagonist in Chapter Five.  As I noted,  the book is a self-publishing project and that means all hands on deck.  The author,  unfortunately, did not see it that way.  When there was copy editing work to do, or when the request to register the book’s copyright was made, she simply refused to respond to emails.  When she did step in to do some work, she was controlling and obstructionist.  Too much time was spent needlessly rewriting the photo captions, for example.  A photo entitled Christmas greetings 1939, and captioned in that way by me, had to be rewritten to read Christmas 1939. The Notes page that I was asked to create, labeled Notes at the center top of an otherwise blank page, as is the custom,  was deemed insufficient and so the author spent precious time rewriting it to include her name and that of the book.

But, on the first Saturday of August at just after 7:00 PM,  I received from the book designer the PDF to upload to the self-publishing website. The book’s formatting was checked electronically and found to be fine and on Sunday, I ordered a physical proof. We’re on our way to printing enough copies to have ready for the September 18 book launch party. Hooray!

As Epilogue, I hope that this story is useful for those of you who’ve been thinking about self-publishing a book that will help you to promote your brand and services. Self-publishing houses will provide assistance with cover design.  Hire an independent copy editor.  To legally register your book, go first to the ISBN website and also buy your bar code there.  Separately register the book’s copyright at http://ipfilings.net.

Thanks for reading and I’m delighted to be back!



Work From Home and Be Productive

There is an art to working from home and not everyone is able to master the craft.  Working from home is a luxury that saves much time and money,  but if you are not disciplined,  you will be foiled by constant distractions and nothing will be accomplished.  Working at home is most successfully practiced by independent self-starters who are comfortable working alone. “The level of discipline it takes to work from home and generate solid results is intense and most people fail at  (working from)  home because of this one fact”,  warns business and sales strategy expert Grant Cardone, author of If You’re Not First, You’re Last (2010).

In the 21st century,  working at home does not mean simultaneously juggling business and personal responsibilities while in your pajamas.  Telecommuters and Freelance solopreneurs save commuting time and expense and give themselves more potential working hours in which to maximize productivity.  Control over one’s time is a huge benefit.  There will be no impromptu meetings to destroy one’s schedule or long conversations by the water cooler to talk about last night’s game,  but those who live with others may have to fight to enforce boundaries and eliminate constant interruptions.   Freelance solopreneurs also realize a tremendous cost saving through by-passing office space rent.   Make the most of your home office experience and follow these tips:

I.   Create an office space

If you are able to have a room in your home to use as an office,  so much the better.  City dwellers may have a small desk or writing table in a corner of their bedroom.  Keep your workspace clean and organized,  as suggested by feng shui experts.   A good environment really does boost productivity and make one feel more comfortable.

2.  Establish boundaries

If you live with others,   teach them to respect that when you step into your office space,  you are at work.  You cannot referee spats;  you cannot chat with your husband or your mother;  you cannot drive anyone to the mall.  Shut the door and work.  Do take normal workday coffee and lunch breaks.

3.   Keep regular work hours

Go to work every day.   You have the luxury of working longer or shorter hours,  mornings or late nights,  according to your biorhythms and the projects on your desk.   Resist the temptation to be either a workaholic or a slacker.

4.   Dress for success

The popular image of those who work from home is of someone who’s in a bathrobe all day,  or sweats.  Remind yourself and those with whom you live that you are a professional who takes your work seriously.  Take a daily shower,  brush your teeth,  comb your hair and dress for work,  whether in business casual attire or jeans and T-shirt.

5.   Stay connected

Working at home is isolating and it is important to maintain professional contacts.  If you telecommute,  set up and participate in conference call meetings that keep you in the loop at the office.   Write reports that document your work and contributions to your team.   Meet regularly with clients,  whether you are a telecommuter or Freelance solopreneur.   Join and visit professional networking groups and attend conferences.  Nurture relationships with professional colleagues.

Thanks for reading,