Tag Archives: creative marketing solutions

Make Sure Your Writer Is Right



Old School Writing -08

Old School Writing -08



A few weeks ago I met a small business owner who had just hired a freelance copywriter and was worried about her decision. She had interviewed the writer and was so impressed by the writer’s personality that she decided to hire the writer on the spot. While we continued to talk I was starting to realize that she had made the decision to hire solely based on the fact that she liked the person she interviewed. The new writer was not meeting deadlines, didn’t have a good grasp of communicating with my friend’s marketing team and missed an important informational meeting with the client. Red flags were everywhere. She asked me to step in and help, which I was glad to do, but shared with her some of the following things she should have asked before getting into the situation at hand.


Here’s a list of important questions you should ask when hiring a freelance writer.

1) What are some of your most recent ad campaigns and how are they working?

This is where you ask to see examples of their work. To me, this is the most important part of the interview. Make sure they tell you why the campaign was developed, how the ideas came to fruition and what the response has been to the campaign

2) What kinds of writing do you do and what is your speciality? 

Many writers say they can write anything for you. This needs to be a red flag instantly. You want to hire someone who has experience writing the format you need. If your company wants to develop a website, make sure the writer you use knows something about keywords and how to make your website searchable. A website that is unsearchable is worthless. So don’t toss your advertising dollars out the window. 

3) What is your work style? 

It’s also equally important to know how your writer plans on working for you. Are they working from home? Do you expect them to come into the office? How do you plan to handle client/writer interactions? What additional resources will they need to get their work completed and done excellently? Setting forth your expectations in advance is key to creating a trusting, working relationship. 

4) Who are your top 3 references and what will they tell me about you?

Always ask for a reference no matter how well you like the writer. This is where the small business owner made her first mistake. You want to know that the writer has a good solid work ethic and that other professionals trust them with their business communications. You also want to ask the writer how those references will speak about their relationship with the writer. It’s good to have a confident writer and one that is well-respected in the industry. If no one has heard of them, that too should be a red flag. With the small business owner, she came to find out that the freelancer she had hired was more of a sales professional and was good at making up stories, not creating marketing messages that generated results.

5) What is your process for working with a new client and what steps do you take to get ready for a new project?

This is also a key question to ask and one that many small business owners don’t. When you bring up this question you are gleaming a wealth of vital information from the writer. This is a great time to talk about the cost of the project, see how organized the writer is with their projects and even determine if the writer is good brainstorming with clients/your team. 

It’s easy to find a writer to carry on a project. It’s much more difficult to find the writer that you want to create a business partnership with for the long haul. Think of it this way, if you are going through writers as

 often as people brush their teeth, you’re loosing a lot of revenue retraining new writers. Think about your choice. After all it’s your choice and it’s your decision. Make it a wise one.


All the best-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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Filed under Advertising, copywriting, Small Business Solutions, Writing

Have You Ever Had an Ideapalooza Party?


Favorite Tools of the Trade

Favorite Tools of the Trade


As a writer, I am often asked by young writers, friends and clients how I keep from writer’s block. The answer is, I don’t always. However, when faced with an occasional brick wall, I find there are many resources out there that can help ignite the fire within and concoct fresh ideas with just a little prompting.

So you’re asking yourself, what in the world is an Ideapalooza Party?

Well as I discussed last week, I tend to have this geeky passion to capture as many ideas as I can so when I can’t think of a creative writing direction, or a client is asking for something unique and I am fresh out of ideas, I have something to begin the idea generation. That’s why once a month I hold an ideapalooza party for myself. I surround myself with lots of coffee, magazines, websites and favorite books. Then for one day, I turn off my phone, shut down my email and write down as many ideas as I can for future projects. 

Check out one site that I usually go to  when beginning my idea generating party.  It offers a unique way of cultivating ideas by simply clicking on a number. It’s called Creative Writing Prompts and it’s a fun way to start up your writer’s engine. Try it out for yourself. My favorite so far is # 47- “In 500 words or less, write about a plate of sunshine”. 

Have fun creating!

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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3 ways to generate a treasure chest of ideas (Part 3 of a 3-part series)


The Light Goes On -Sept-08

The Light Goes On -Sept-08

Today’s final topic in the three-part series on brainstorming focuses on using unusual combinations within your business to heighten your reach, create new ideas and develop useful strategies that take you business from “business as usual” to “business is unusually busy”. 


One technique that I have used with some of my clients is Unusual Combination Brainstorming. With this method I help the client take their current situation (slow sales, needing a presence in their current marketplace or selling a brand new product) and try to match it up with a service provider, a new way to brand themselves or an exciting look that is completely unrelated to their current approach.

Think about yesterday’s example of Word Association Brainstorming. If a client needed to create a toothbrush that helped to promote better dental hygiene, I might suggest that the client think of list of items that were unrelated to the product they produce. Who knows if they would have come up with a timer, an eye chart or even a garden hose. (Just remember the unrelated item needs to help solve the problem.) What is important is that they create something different than the norm, while fulfilling the need of their customer. 

Try it for yourself. Whether you’re brainstorming for a new tagline or you want to develop a product that gives you a competitive edge, take time to think about other combos, moving your business to the next level. 


  • Write down 5-10 items that have nothing to do with your product/service.
  • Make a list of 3 providers you know that might offer those products/services you have written down.
  • Determine if a partnership can be created that’s win-win for each of you.
  • Ask friends, family and business associates to brainstorm with you.
  • Talk to a young person, see what they can cultivate, often their young minds are much more creative that ours.
I’d love to know your thoughts about brainstorming and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Drop me a line.
Have a great weekend-

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Filed under Advertising, copywriting, Marketing, Uncategorized

3 ways to generate a treasure chest of ideas (Part 1 of a 3-part series)


Idea Book-Sept. 08

Idea Book-Sept. 08

Let’s face it, as it gets closer and closer to the end of the year, we begin to run out of steam. With approaching holidays, 4th quarter deadlines and a host of projects that have to be completed by the end of the year, I am in need of some brainy solutions for my clients. That’s where my treasure chest of ideas comes in handy. Most of you know it as brainstorming.


Off and on through out the year, I gather as many ideas, thoughts, visual inspirational pieces and articles on successful strategy as I can. I store it in this geeky little notebook (that’s a writer for you) so in times when I am busy, I can peer in and find these gold dubloons and craft them into results-driven solutions.  So you’re asking, “Where do I start?”  

Inside the Idea Book-Sept. 08

Inside the Idea Book-Sept. 08









Try these three ways to generate a ton of ideas in a short period of time. 

1) Begin the brainstorm adventure.  Try Monahan’s 100 MPH Thinking™.


  • Take your brainstorming group and divide them up into teams of 3-5 people. 
  • Set a limit on the # of ideas generated in 10 minutes per team. 
  • Give a block of post-it-notes to each team captain. 
  • Start the timer and have the team write down a new idea on each post-it. (This is not the time to self edit, any idea, thought or phrase is game!)
  • Each each team member then selects their two favorites, presents them to the group and then the group as a whole decides which “idea” helps fill your need.


Tip: Hang on to all of the stickies you generated. They can be “golden” and stored in a “idea” book for future use.

2) Tomorrow we’ll discuss word association brainstorming

3) On Friday we’ll discover how unusual combinations often lead to brilliant ideas … think sliced bread or rollerblades. 

Many other factors should also be considered when selecting the brainstorming environment, the people that should attend the storm and a plan on how to review your brainstorming “nuggets” and turn them in to gold. Before your get started, make sure you know how to execute the perfect brainstorming playing field.

Stay tuned, more to come tomorrow …


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Filed under Advertising, copywriting, Marketing, Uncategorized, Writing

The Winds of Change


They call it the windy city … Chicago. Trust me, I’ve been there when the wind is billowing and yes, it is windy to say the least. However, last week, it was a different wind that blew life into my sails and set me on an exciting new course.  Last week I attended the first ever Creative Freelancer Conference in Chicago and I must say I learned some amazing things that I can’t wait to share with each of you.

Day 1-Creative Freelancer Conference-Chicago-Aug-08

Day 1-Creative Freelancer Conference-Chicago-Aug-08


First of all, a huge shout out must go to conference co-founders Illise Benun & Peleg Top, Dyana Valentine (girl, you have some energy!) and of course who could forget the Communicatrix, Colleen Wainwright – that’s only a few of the astounding people I met at the conference. Their enthusiasm for generating creative solutions that exceed clients’ expectations was infectious and in the weeks to come you’ll hear me talk about them even more. 

With that said I want to get you thinking and give you a little teaser for things to come. Here’s a few questions to ponder …


  • What is your company currently encountering, that makes daily success difficult?
  • Do you struggle with time management?
  • How can you effectively structure your week to get more done? (yes, you can do this!)
  • What’s the best way to motivate your staff?
  • Is social networking a good idea for your company? For you personally?
Start thinking! Send me an email with your thoughts. I’d love to point you in the direction of exciting and proven solutions. Bottom line, this is a place for you to gather insight, tips, tricks or even take 5 minutes for yourself to breathe and refocus your business efforts in a positive, fulfilling way.
Now is the time to get your current marketing efforts out of the doghouse!
Speaking of dogs, check out the picture of the Chicago dog I ate-yum heartburn city!
Chi-Dog @ Wrigley Aug. 08

Chi-Dog @ Wrigley Aug. 08

Be sure to check out my website Dog-Eared Pages and send me an email to begin receiving my new newsletter.
Wishing you the best-

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