Wednesday, December 30, 2015


I don't normally do posts like this, but I wanted to keep this information somewhere, and I thought you might be interested in this feedback too! (I recommend surveying your customers occasionally -- and this is a good question to ask!)

On the 2015 Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey, I ask this question:
"What can Resume Writers' Digest and provide you with that you're not getting anywhere else? Any other comments/feedback?"

Here were some of the responses:
  • "The wonderful client articles to share."
  • "I get so much more from BARW than any other association!"
  • "I like the pass-along materials and use them to create passive income in my business."
  • "Keep up the great work -- have LOVED everything you write and send out to us!"
  • "Developing a business model which is highly personalized and incorporates goals for establishing balance between work and real life. A holistic approach to creating a realistic work/life blend. Filtering out the noise and editing 'what to say no to.' My mind is an overachiever and has set me up for a good deal of stress; my heart (and my husband) just wants my personal time back!"
  • "I like the tools/templates you make available. I like having quality tools I can easily access and adapt to meet my needs despite a very busy schedule."
  • "You are doing an amazing job -- just keep doing what you are doing!"
  • "Focus on ideas for improved materials used in the industry."
  • "Forms for managing client workload -  i.e., a good "Tracking Form"
  • "Content if I ever set up a blog or newsletter to send out to potential clients."
  • "Takeaways are great!!"
  • "I absolutely love the LinkedIn guide you wrote and then updated. I'd love more templates and guides for additional document writing, such as reference page and guides, social media updating guides, etc. Things I can give or sell to my clients as an added benefit to my resume writing."
  • "Guidebooks and information sheets to give to clients as part of paid packages."
  • "Resume writing/career coaching book recommendations. Contract samples/templates. Scripts for talking to referral partners (especially recruiters)."
  • "You are already doing it, and doing it well!"
  • "Show us how to set up merge fields in resume documents, invoices, contracts, etc. to save time when dealing with clients. That way, we only need to type the name, email, address, phone number in once, and then it automatically populates where it needs to in accompany documents."
  • "Keep on doing what you're doing; it's great"
  • "I would like more information to help potential clients understand the differences between the various certifications out there. There is no apples-to-apples comparison right now. Potential clients seem to simply view a certification as a certification -- with no differentiation."
  • "I would love to see a business case for companies, nonprofits, state career centers, university career centers, etc. (organizations that already have a career services component) bringing in resume writer consultants to conduct training and speaking. I often get the cold shoulder with the attitude of "We already offer what you do," but they don't offer the same level of quality and don't have the same level of expertise (or credentials). I am tired of trying to convince them."
  • "Products that are pre-written so I don't have to use my downtime not writing to write more!"
  • "More potential customer referrals for resume writing."
  • "Speaking engagements: Who, what, when, where, why, how."
  • "I appreciate the resources you produce. They are of excellent quality and tremendously useful to clients. Thank you for your hard work!"
  • Already benefiting with Get Clients Now! but more information/support/resources regarding improving quality of subcontracting relationships, e.g., average income for subcontractor. I think this will benefit the industry generally, both on the subcontractor side and the contracting side."
  • "Continued access to tip sheets and instructional materials for us and for clients."
  • "Survey results like this to understand industry trends and peer perception."
  • "Unbiased information / Bridget's wisdom."
  • "I love the ready-made special reports (Pass-Along Materials) that I can give to clients to supplement the coaching/resume writing work we are doing."
  • "I love my membership in BARW! It is a goldmine of information and education."
  • "More insight into the daily operation of other resume writing businesses. How do they do it?"
  • "How to establish a membership-based site." 

I appreciate all the feedback, ideas, and positive comments!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Follow-up to Question: What Topic Do You Want to Learn More About in 2015?

One of the questions I ask on the Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey is: "What topic do you want to learn more about in 2015?"

In reviewing some of the answers, I see some answers that we've created resources for, so I've included some of the answers with links to these resources (training, special reports, and Pass-Along Materials).

Here's the answers:

Monday, December 28, 2015

How Do You Compare? 2015 Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey

The Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey is an opportunity for resume writers to benchmark their progress compared to their peers. The survey was first conducted in 2001. The 2015 edition of the survey was conducted from May 2015 into June 2015 and the results were reported in December 2015.

One hundred six resume writers contributed to the survey data. They spent an average of 11 minutes answering 21 questions in the survey.*

The results were compiled into the "Profile of Professional Resume Writers: Who We Are, What We Charge, How We Work" report. Career industry professionals interested in receiving a complimentary copy of the report can opt-in to receive it here.

Who Are Survey Respondents?
More than fifty percent of survey respondents are full-time, self-employed resume writers, including subcontract work. Twenty-two percent are self-employed part-time. Anecdotal evidence suggests many of those working part-time have full-time jobs in university career offices, as a recruiter, or working in human resources.

Ninety-one percent of those who took the survey are located in the United States.

The survey respondents are not "newbies." Only six percent of survey respondents have been in business for fewer than two years.

The pricing data reflects the "veteran" nature of survey respondents. Generally, resume writers who have been in business charge the most. (Those who don't charge enough to support themselves in their resume writing business generally leave the industry.)

Where We Work
Seventy-five percent of survey respondents report they work from a home office, with another 14 percent having both a home office and a business office. Only eight percent work from a business office (not located in a home), which is a stark contrast from the early years of the Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey, when a home-based resume writer was the rarity.

The number of resume writers who work with clients virtually has steadily increased over the past few years. In this year's survey, 31 percent of resume writers say they only work with clients virtually. Forty-five percent say they work with clients in person and/or virtually, with another 13 percent who say they meet with clients in person, either at the resume writer's home or office.

The number of resume writers who use a combination of a phone consultation and questionnaire to gather information from clients has risen slightly from the previous survey. Thirty-five percent of survey respondents report using this combination (up from 33% in 2012), while 21 percent only use questionnaires (up from 16 percent in 2012).

The survey revealed that participants write an average of three resumes a week -- a number that has been fairly consistent over the past few years in the survey. Writers reported spending an average of 24 hours a week on resume development (including client consultations, research, writing, and finalization) -- the same number as in the previous survey.

The busiest month, according to the survey, is January, followed by September. In the previous survey, February was the second-busiest, with February, March, and April tied for third.

Let's Talk Pricing
The most common hourly rate cited was $150 in this year's survey, double the number in the previous year's survey ($75 in 2012 data, compared to $50 in 2010 and 2011). The hourly average this year is $105.64, a 14 percent increase from $90.87 reported in 2012, and up from $83 an hour average in 2011.

The average reported price for a resume and cover letter in 2015's survey is $603.82, which is up almost 20 percent over 2012's figure ($478 in 2012, which was down slightly from 2011's figure of $11). The most frequently-cited amount charged for a resume and cover letter was $350, which was up from $300 in 2012's survey data.

LinkedIn profile development services are becoming a bigger part of the "average" resume writer's typical sale, followed by preparing additional resume formats (ASCII and PDF), creating references pages and other supporting documents (thank you letters), and brand development services. Social media profile development (outside of LinkedIn) has declined since the 2012 survey.

How Resume Writers Attract Clients
Marketing is often listed as one of the top challenges of resume writers, so it can be useful to learn how other resume writers secure their clients:

  • Referrals – 17% (18% in 2012)
  • Website – 13% (16% in 2012)
  • Social Media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) – 13% (7% in 2012)
  • Directory of Professional Resume Writers on Professional Association Websites – 7% (same as 2012)
  • Networking – 7%
  • Organic Search (not paid ads) – 6%
  • Community Outreach/Unpaid Speaking Gigs – 3%
  • Strategic Alliances – 3% (5% in 2012)
  • Recruiters – 3% (5% in 2012)
  • Public Relations/Being Interviewed – 2%
  • Blog – 2% (4% in 2012)
  • Yellow Pages – 2% (5% in 2012)

The percentage of resume writers reporting they get new clients via their website is down three percent from the previous survey, while LinkedIn (and other social media) is up six percent. Yellow Pages advertising, not unexpectedly, has declined from five percent to two percent. Strategic alliances are down from five percent to three percent. Recruiter referrals also dropped three percent from 2012's figures. Blog traffic as a source of new clients also dropped from four percent to two percent.

Networking -- not surprisingly -- is a good source of business, generating seven percent of business. Unpaid speaking engagements and community outreach account for three percent of new clients, and public relations/publicity generated another two percent.

Certification and Training
Most resume writers surveyed are a member of at least one professional association. Memberships included:

  • The National Resume Writer's Association – 14% (15% in 2012)
  • Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches – 13% (14% in 2012)
  • – 13%  (same as 2012)
  • Career Thought Leaders – 13% (8% in 2012)
  • Career Directors International – 9% (11% in 2012)
  • Resume Writing Academy – 8% (6% in 2012)
  • The Academies – 5% (4% in 2012)
  • National Career Development Association – 4%
  • – 3% (4% in 2012)

Membership figures have stayed pretty consistent from the 2012 survey. (We consider the "traditional professional associations" to include the NRWA, PARW/CC and CDI, while the other organizations listed provide training and other membership benefits, but are not traditional professional associations.)

Forty-four percent of survey respondents report they are certified as resume writers, with another 10 percent saying they have a coaching certification. Twenty-five percent report they are dually certified in resume writing and career coaching, while 20 percent are not certified.

Resume writers: Like the information you've read so far? Opt-in to receive the full report here. 
The full report also includes a "Profile of the 'Average' Resume Writer" and additional resources for career services professionals.

* Note: The survey is a voluntary report from participating resume writers and is not considered statistically valid.


Read these blog posts about previous Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey results:

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Write Great Resumes Faster (CEU)

Looking for Continuing Education Units (CEU) for resume writing? 
Here's a free training that can earn you one CEU!

How long you spend on writing a resume depends on you — but what resume writer doesn’t want to learn strategies to write better resumes even a little more quicklywithout sacrificing quality? In this presentation, Bridget (Weide) Brooks, CPRW will give you tools and resources to help you reduce the amount of time it takes you to write a resume — while simultaneously improving the effectiveness of the resumes you write.

Are you ever stumped on where to start when writing a resume? Do you keep track of how long it takes you to write a resume? Would you like to shave 45 minutes, an hour or two — or more — off your writing time? Looking for ideas on how to create more effective resumes to win your clients an interview? How much more money could you make — or how many more clients could you serve — if you could write resumes even just a little bit faster than you do now — without compromising the quality of the work you produce? 

The premise of this training — “Write Great Resumes Faster” — is to help resume writers make more money, with less work! Designed for new resume writers and veterans alike, this presentation will address three main areas. 
  • The first is the “pre-writing process,” or strategies to implement before you sit down in front of your keyboard to actually write the resume. 
  • The second section is on technology and the tools that will help you with the writing part — and the “getting faster” part, which has a lot to do with research and client management. 
  • Finally, you’ll get some solid strategies that will help you when it’s just “not working” — when you get stuck. 

One of the hallmarks of Bridget’s presentations is you’ll get actionable tips and information you can put to use right away, including formulas, cheat sheets, and worksheets.

Take the free course here:

There is also a CEU quiz in the course. If you score 80% or above, you will receive a certification for one CEU.

Bridget (Weide) Brooks, CPRW, has been writing resumes with Image Building Communications in Omaha, Nebraska, for the past 16 years. She is editor of Resume Writers’ Digest, a trade newsletter for professional resume writers, and the founder of the resource site for careers industry professionals. Bridget has authored numerous information products, including “Feed the Media,” “Developing Strategic Alliances and Partnerships with Recruiters,” and “Making Money as a Resume Subcontractor.” She is a prolific blogger and social media specialist. Bridget has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lessons From the 7-Step Product Creation Challenge Q&A Call

Yesterday, I hosted a Q&A call for participants in the "7-Step Product Creation Challenge" -- a self-guided program to help career industry professionals develop their first -- or NEXT -- information product.

Here are five tips that I shared on the Q&A call that may help you create your information product -- whether that's an ebook, tip sheet, membership program, webinar/teleseminar, live program, or self-study program for jobseekers.

The first tip is START WITH YOUR WHY. What is your motivation for creating an information product? The two biggest "whys" for resume writers and career coaches is usually one -- or both -- of two things. The first reason to create an information product is to generate passive income (and/or recurring revenue) in your business. For most resume writers, they are only making money when they are directly serving clients (1-to-1 work). An information product allows you to make money even while you're sleeping, while you're doing "family things" or even when you're serving clients!

Speaking of serving clients, that's the second reason you may be motivated to create an information product: A well-designed information product solves a problem for a jobseeker. Many resume writers who have developed their products did so because their clients had a need. Here are just a few examples:

The second tip is START EASY AND CREATE OFTEN! Many career services professionals I talk to want to create something big, like a home study training program or a hardcopy book. Instead, if you're creating your first information product, start with something small -- a tip sheet, an ebook, or a teleseminar. Once you've created one, you'll find it easier to do another one!

But DON'T REINVENT THE WHEEL. That's tip number three. Do you already have something done that you can re-use? Look through your email inbox and see what questions you answer over and over again for clients. Then take the content that you've already sent to clients (copy-and-paste from your emails!) and do something with it! And don't forget that Pass-Along Materials are ready-to-go content you can put to work right away!

The fourth tip is to DEVELOP ONCE AND PROMOTE OFTEN! Once you've created your first (or next!) information product, your work isn't done! The next step is to continue to promote it! You can't just "build it and they will come." Make it a point to promote your product -- post about it on social media. Do guest blog posts or be a guest on podcasts where your ideal client for that product hangs out! Excerpt it!

Finally, JUST GET STARTED! One thing I said over and over again on the call was: "Done is better than perfect!" You can always go back and add to the information product. But getting something done and out there is a huge motivator! If you want help creating an information product for your career services business, take the 7-Step Product Creation Challenge! It's just $37 for the self-guided program. It walks you through the process, step-by-step!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Someday" is Now (The importance of taking action)

"I'm too busy right now, but I'll get around to it."

Ugh. I find myself saying that (too often!). But the truth is, I'm not really "too busy," I just haven't made it a priority.

Since I first took Kelly McCausey's Little Monthly Payments program, I've registered three domain names (one with web hosting!) to launch my next micro-continuity membership site. But then the excuses got in the way. And two of those domains have come up for renewal (meaning I registered them more than a year ago), and the guilt just keeps piling on.

So when I saw that Kelly is offering a Little Monthly Payments masterclass, I signed up. I can't make all four of the live calls (I have an event one of the nights), but I know I can go back and listen to the recording of that call. (She records all the calls.) More important, though, is that by taking this action, I'm making the development of my next program a priority.

If you've been thinking about how to create passive income (and recurring revenue) in your career services business (while ALSO attracting prospective clients and serving jobseekers better), I wanted to remind you one more time about Kelly's masterclass option.

The masterclass includes the Little Monthly Payments self-study training plus four live calls AND access to two "open office hours" sessions with Kelly to get your specific questions answered. Or, you can sign up for just the Little Monthly Payments self-study training.

You can learn more about both options here:
Little Monthly Payments

And if you buy through my link, I'll also send you my "Little Monthly Payments" checklist that I developed that will help walk you step-by-step through the process. But if you're going to stop saying, "I'll get around to it" -- hey, that implied "someday" is now!

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Definition of Insanity

I've been having an email conversation recently with a resume writer who has been plagued with a PITA (Pain-In-The-A$$) client who is leaving negative reviews on her Yelp page. (I've written before about how to combat negative reviews here.) 

She reached out to me because this past client has been disparaging her on Yelp because she denied him a refund (and he lost the dispute with his credit card company about it) and Yelp is now showing this negative review exclusively on her page (and hiding all of her "good" reviews). We talked through some strategies for handling that, but the bigger issue is that she has expressed continual frustration with the prices she can charge in her area and PITA clients.

My advice to her is: STOP FOCUSING ON REVIEWS. "Live by the reviews, die by the reviews."

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. One of her top sources of clients is people who find her online using sites like Thumbtack (or Angie's List) and Yelp. As I explained to her, clients who find you through Google these days are the equivalent of clients who would find you through the Yellow Pages 5-7 years ago. ("Good" clients could be found through the Yellow Pages at one time, but that hasn't really been the case for me for about the last 10 years.) They often don't understand the difference between a $75 resume and a $750 resume. They're more likely to be tire-kickers or try to talk you down on your prices.

My message to her is: The first step is recognizing the problem. The second step is admitting you have a problem. The third step is doing something about the problem!

Instead of worrying about negative reviews online, I advised her instead to spend her time and effort cultivating prospects and referral sources. I had previously recommended the Get Clients Now! book to her as a system to help her organize and implement her marketing efforts.
In her most recent email, she expressed frustration that clients in her area (including executives) weren't willing to even pay $265 for a resume and cover letter. (The national average for a resume and cover letter is around $500, according to the Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey.) I told her:
I can assure you that there are prospective clients in YOUR AREA who are going online and paying $500+ for a resume and cover letter from a resume writer in another state. You offer more personalized service (FOCUS ON THIS!!) and there's no reason why you can't attract them. You're not going to find them on sites like Thumbtack, and many of them aren't going to find that Yelp review. Clients who find you through a Google search (that's today's version of the Yellow Pages) are more price-sensitive and are more likely to be PITAs.

When you rely on hoping prospective clients find you -- rather than attracting your ideal clients -- you're likely to find yourself working with clients who see you as a commodity, rather than an expert resource.

From teaching six sessions of the Get Clients Now program (five of them specifically for resume writers), the top sources for GREAT clients are:
1) Referrals from past, satisfied clients
2) Relationships with hiring managers and recruiters who will refer clients (most without expectation of a referral fee)
3) Speaking engagements you do (not on resume writing, but on other aspects of the job search -- LinkedIn, for example)
4) Writing (blogging, writing articles, guest posting, publishing content on your own website)
5) People who you know in your day-to-day life (friends, family, neighbors, etc.) who know what you do and refer people they know who need job search help

So, in order to attract better (higher quality, higher paying) clients, you need to:
1) Identify your ideal client
2) FIgure out where they "hang out" (online and offline)
3) Provide information/resources that make you a valued resource (to increase your "know/like/trust" factor)
4) Make it clear how you can help

As a homework exercise before folks start the Get Clients Now group training with me, I ask them to track how they've gotten their clients in the last 30 days. I want you to do that, but I want you to take a step further. Look back at your five favorite clients to work with. Figure out how you got them. Are there any lessons in that for how you can attract more clients like them?

As you work to attract more of your ideal clients (at a higher pay rate than what you're getting now), you'll get out of the cycle of burnout and frustration. But it doesn't happen overnight, and from now on, you must dedicate yourself to 100% quality and meeting every deadline. I don't care if these clients review you on Yelp or not. If they're happy, they will tell others. (And you will TELL them to tell others!)

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Your resume writing business can get better, but you have to decide what you want, and then act on it.

Are you ready to do something different?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Five Things to Do With Tweetable Tips Content

As I've talked about on many occasions, jobseekers are hungry for information that will help them in their careers. One of the best ways to establish your credibility as an expert who can help them is to share information. 

I'm currently giving my tribe of resume writers "30 Days of Gifts," and today's gift was a mini version of the "Tweetable Tips" Pass-Along Materials from May 2015.

If you're a Free or Bronze member of and you're reading this in September 2015, you can log into your account and access today's gift (along with a new gift each day during the month)!

"Top Tips." "10 Ways to..." "3 Simple Strategies for..." These are some of the most popular type of content to publish. Here's five ways to make the most out of this content.

1. Bundle.
You can bundle up tips into an article or a tip sheet. Organize a certain number of tips in a logical order (i.e., 5 tips, 10 tips, etc.), write an intro paragraph, and put a bio paragraph at the bottom with your photo and a link to your website. Don't forget a call to action too! I turn my tips into PDFs instead of sharing them as Word documents.

2. Tweet Them Out.
You can load up your social media accounts with the tweets. You can use a social app like Hootsuite to pre-schedule posts. All of the tweets in the Pass-Along Materials content I gave you will fit in Twitter's 140-character limit. But you can also post them on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest (see tip #3!), or use them as a LinkedIn status update.

3. Make Them Shareable!
Tips are perfect for creating shareable content -- images and infographics. You can get images from a site like Fotolia (do NOT just get your images off of Google!). Add the shortened tip in a nice font and stick a border around the image. Be SURE to put your company name and URL on the graphic too! If you want to put the tips into an infographic, use a tool like

4. Create Slides or a Video.
It's easy to create a shareable, information-packed slide show or video. You can use PowerPoint and put one tip on each slide. Publish the slide deck to SlideShare. You can use one of PowerPoint's built-in themes. Pick a theme, type in the tip, and use Fotolia for an accompanying image. Don't forget to add a title slide and a slide at the end with your name/contact information and call to action. Once you have a slide show, you can record the slideshow with narrations and timing (under the Slide Show menu). Then to go "File" > "Make Movie." You now have a slide show AND a video!

5. Use Them as Inspiration!
Stuck for ideas for articles, blog posts, or emails? Use a few of the tips! You can base an article off just one tip, or use a few at a time. Even better, take a bunch of tips (there are several "themes" in the content I gave you) and divide them up into an autoresponder email series. (I use AWeber for this.) Again, don't forget to include a call to action!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What Should Be In Your Client Contract?

Some resume writers don't use a client contract (or client agreement). But if you already have one -- or you're thinking you should have one -- check out these pointers for what should be included in your client contract.

Here's the things you should consider including in your client agreement:

Detailed Description of the Services You Will Provide
It's essential to very clearly describe the services that will be provided. The more detail you can put in this part of the contract, the fewer misunderstandings will occur. This is very important for resume writers in particular, since the majority of us charge by the project instead of hourly. Having a very clear definition of what is included in the services you're providing (including providing timeframes for client consultations, number of revisions, etc.) is critical. You don't want "scope creep" ruining your profit potential. ("I thought that customized cover letter was included." "Let's look at the agreement. No, a template cover letter is included. We can certainly customize it for specific positions; however, there will be a $40 charge per letter for that service. Would you like to order that?"

Responsibilities of the Service Provider
Spell out in great detail which dates youĂ­ll have the work completed by, and what your responsibilities are to the client in regard to getting the work done. How will it be submitted to the client? What constitutes finished work? Be very specific in this area. It will help protect you as well as help you feel done each day when you know what constitutes "finished."

Responsibilities of the Client
Spell out what the client must do so that you can do your job. For example, state that the client must get you the information you need by a certain date, and say how the client should contact you when they have questions. Be very specific and exact in this section so there is no mistake about what the client needs to do to ensure that you can do your work in a timely manner.

Important Due Dates
Restate the important due dates for both sides of the client/service provider equation. The reason you want to state this again is that it's an essential component in being able to work together cohesively without issues. These dates will ensure that it all happens without a lot of back and forth or problems. If the client returns the questionnaire to you after the due date, that will most likely cause a delay in the delivery of the resume draft. Make sure your agreement states that!

How Payment Will Be Processed
State how and when you will bill the client and how and when you expect the client to pay you. If you want to be paid via PayPal then you should say so, otherwise they may not be prepared to pay you this way -- which can cause delays. Spell out all the terms, the amount and how and when it all happens. Most resume writers charge full payment up front, so make sure your agreement outlines your refund policy. Also be sure to clarify how charges for additional services will be handled. (For example, those customized cover letters!)

Terms for Termination
Tell the client how they can terminate your agreement, and state how you can terminate the agreement. If there is an end date to this contract, state that here too. (For example: All resume projects not finalized within 45 days after the delivery of the draft document will be considered "closed" and any changes or corrections requested after that date will incur additional charges.)

It's super important to include any legalities that are required by your state or country. It also is good for the service provider to include a line that states any court proceedings and all laws will be determined by your state, city and county. That way if a problem happens you won't have to travel for court. (This is especially important if you work with clients outside your immediate geographical area.)

Complete Description of the Relationship between Both Parties
This is the area where you mention the nature of the business relationship, in terms of whether or not you are an independent contractor or an employee. Spelling it out here will protect both parties from IRS issues later. This isn't likely to be a big issue unless your agreement is with an outplacement service firm, for example, instead of a single client.

Non-Disclosure Agreement
This is something that is good for both parties -- you agree not to tell people you work for the client and the client agrees not to share your proprietary documents, processes, and materials with anyone else. Whatever you both want in this agreement to protect both parties in terms of non-disclosure goes here.

Ownership of the Deliverables
State in this section who owns the deliverables. Usually you will put words to the effect that deliverables are owned by the client once payment has been processed. This will help prevent non-payment or claims of ownership of the work when payment has not yet been submitted. This is the best way to protect your hard work and their intellectual property.

Having a client contract or agreement can't always protect you from PITA clients, but it can help you untangle the mess if a client does have an issue.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Q&A: Starting an Email List

I like to answer questions from my tribe! In today's blog post, I respond to a reader who has a question about starting an email list.


I've been doing some Internet research regarding email marketing. MailChimp says I have to ask permission before I send email marketing. How do I do that? (I'm not using them - I'm going to do it myself) Do I send a first email saying in the subject line: "Asking permission to email monthly newsletter - NO email marketing service used"?

Another question: It has been suggested that I put a privacy policy right up front. Is the following enough? 

Privacy policy: I am not using an email marketing service - I am distributing the monthly email newsletter myself. There will be complete confidentiality. Your email will not be given to anyone. Please let me know if you're interested in receiving it. Below is what you will see.

I'm thrilled you want to start using email to market/communicate! It's one of the most valuable tools you can use to generate repeat business, referrals and even new clients!

You want to get people to opt-in to your email. I believe you actually SHOULD be using an email marketing service -- doing it yourself (i.e., copy-and-pasting email addresses into a BCC list) has two major disadvantages: 

  1. lower deliverability of email messages (some email systems associate the BCC method with spam and will block messages from you -- not just the bulk ones, but they'll "blacklist" your email address and when you try to individually email these clients later, the message may not get through. 
  2. You won't know who opened your email messages. All email marketing systems track "open rates" -- and while they're not infallible (people have to either click a link in the email or click "load images" to be registered as an "open,"), knowing which of your messages are enticing people to read them is valuable information. (Imagine if our clients could send their resumes this way, and they'd know if their resumes were actually being "opened" and read! I'm sure that day is coming! *smile*)

Okay, back to opting in. The best way to do this is to invite people to JOIN your email list. But it's not like the old days (5-10 years ago), when you could say, "Sign up to get my email newsletter!" and people would join it. No, people want valuable information in exchange for giving up their email address, and a "monthly newsletter" isn't enough of a draw. The easiest way to get them to sign up is by giving them a valuable special report. A lot of my Bronze members adapt their Pass-Along Materials for this purpose. Another advantage of using an email service is that it automates the opt-in and delivery of the freebie. 

YES, you can send an email to each of your current clients, but I wouldn't use the subject line "Asking permission to email monthly newsletter." Instead, I'd tailor it to your bonus. For example: "Follow-up to resume services: Making more in your next job." This one-to-one email can be sent to each of your clients you've worked with (and, on an ongoing basis, to each client you work with in the future, after you send their resume documents). The email would have a link to opt-in to the email list AND when they sign up, it AUTOMATICALLY sends them the link to download the special report. (And they're added to your email list.) That's the basis of permission-based marketing.

If you want to use your email list to generate prospects (not just communicate with existing clients), you can also add the opt-in box to your website and social media profiles. You use it the same way -- you offer a valuable opt-in incentive (it can even be a DIFFERENT one for prospective clients vs. existing clients!) and you put an opt-in box on your website, blog, Facebook business page, etc. to get people to opt-in to receive it (and thus be on your email list). Most of the email marketing services will also include tools that allow you to spread the word about getting on your list (including "forward this email" buttons and links to your social media profile tools).

Many of the services also allow you to upload lists but ONLY do this if you have the permission of the people to add them! For example, if you have a booth at a job fair, you can offer to send them your salary negotiation guide if they put their name/email on your sign-up sheet. Then, you can enter those names into your email service database manually and it will both send them the guide AND add them to your email list.

As for WHAT to send to folks once they're on your list, make sure you follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your content should be valuable career-related information (without sales tactics) and 20% can be promotions/advertising -- whether that's for your own services or affiliate products/services. You want people to STAY on your list, so make sure you're communicating with them REGULARLY (at least once a month) and giving them valuable information.

But that brings me to reason #3 to use an email marketing service: automatic unsubscribes. The #1 rule you need to follow in email marketing is actually a LAW -- the CAN-SPAM Act defines email marketing. If someone asks to be taken off your list, you need to do that. And it's easier to allow them to unsubscribe themselves (ALL email marketing programs have this option built-in to each message you send) than to manage getting the replies to you one by one by one. Here's the CAN-SPAM Act guidelines:

The #4 reason to use an email marketing service is they offer you pretty templates you can customize when sending the information. Instead of a plain email message, you can incorporate a "theme" template -- customizing the colors and fonts to match your business logo/colors. Once you set up this template, you can use it over and over again, making it easy to send your monthly messages. 

All in all, email marketing services offer some major advantages over sending messages yourself. And frankly, most people don't actually MIND that you're using an email marketing service to manage your list. The messages look more professional, getting on and off the list are easy, and they still can be personalized (you can set up your messages so they drop in the recipient's first name in the subject line or in the body of the message itself).

And they're not too expensive. (EVERY resume writer I've worked with on this has said their list pays for itself in terms of repeat business, referrals, affiliate products/services sold, and new business generated, if they follow the guidelines I've outlined here). The cost can be as little as $5/month, but the average is $20/month. I personally pay about $50/month for mine, and it's TOTALLY worth it.

I use (and recommend) these three email marketing services -- I've included pluses and minuses, and my affiliate links for each:

VerticalResponse. Offers a pay-as-you-go option (you can pay for email "credits" to start out, instead of a flat monthly rate -- although you can change to a monthly subscription at any time), so it's very affordable to get started. VR offers some basic templates; but does not include free graphics. It can host your sign-up form for you too. Setup difficulty level: Medium

Constant Contact. One of the most popular services. A little more pricey than other options, but offers a TON of templates and lots of free graphics (plus access to paid stock photography services). Good sign-up tools for getting people on your list -- integrates with your Facebook page easily to provide a sign-up form. Also offers other services: survey tool, event management/sign-up tool, and a Groupon-like service. Offers a free trial for new customers. Setup difficulty level: Easy

AWeber. This one requires more technical proficiency than the other two, but offers a way for you to provide both single email messages AND email "courses" to prospective clients or current/past clients using autoresponders. I use it to deliver both free AND paid programs -- you can set up a series of email messages that are delivered automatically -- for example, my Leveraging LinkedIn class is 8 email lessons delivered once a day for 8 consecutive days. I set it up once in AWeber and people can subscribe to the "course" and the messages are delivered to them automatically. It also offers great opt-in forms -- giving you the code to put on your own page or AWeber will even "host" the form for you. Setup difficulty level: Harder

Why don't I recommend Mailchimp? Mainly because of email deliverability rates. Because Mailchimp offers a free level of service, their OVERALL email deliverability rates are lower, because some email service providers block ALL Mailchimp messages because some people use the free service irresponsibly. (Because there is no cost, it's used quite a bit by folks selling multilevel marketing products or low-cost services/products). I prefer using a paid service that monitors its members and makes sure they are following the rules (not just adding their entire email list to their account and sending messages without permission).

As for the privacy policy, YES, it's fine to include it, but it does NOT need to be the first thing in the message (nor will that help you entice people to subscribe and/or stay on your list). The #1 way to build trust with your list is to SHOW, not TELL. It's not enough to say that you won't share or use their email without permission -- SHOW that. Do NOT add send "bulk" emails to people unless they've requested to be added to your list (by opting in to receive your freebie). It's fine to send ONE email message to people you currently work with (or have worked with in the past) to ask if they want to receive your freebie, but don't just ADD them to the list. People hate that. :-)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Preparing for My 11th Resume Writing Conference

I'm speaking (two breakout sessions!) at the 2015 NRWA Conference in Charlotte, and it got me thinking about how many conferences I've attended! (The answer is 10 so far! Charlotte will be #11.)

Here's an updated list of resume writing conferences (dating back as far as I could remember or tell). The ones I've attended I've listed in BOLD.

The National Resume Writers' Association (NRWA):
2015 - Charlotte, North Carolina
2014 - Denver, Colorado
2013 - Chicago, Illinois
2012 - Charleston, South Carolina
2011 - Portland, Maine
2010 - Fort Worth, Texas
2009 - Annapolis, Maryland
2008 - San Diego, California
2007 - Savannah, Georgia
2006 - Phoenix, Arizona
2005 - Stamford, Connecticut
2004 - Nashville, Tennessee
2003 - Seattle, Washington
2002 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2001 - San Antonio, Texas
2000 - Las Vegas, Nevada
1999 - New Orleans, Louisiana
1998 - Chicago, Illinois

Career Directors International:
2015 - Orlando, Florida
2014 - Orlando, Florida
2013 - ??
2012 - ??
2011 - Savannah, Georgia
2010 - San Diego, California
2009 - Orlando, Florida
2008 - Seattle, Washington
2007 - San Antonio, Texas
2006 - Orlando, Florida (PRWRA)
2005 - Las Vegas, Nevada (PRWRA)
2004 - Indianapolis, Indiana (PRWRA)
2003 - New Orleans (PRWRA)
2002 - Atlanta, Georgia (when the organization was still PRWRA)

Career Management Alliance (no longer in business as of August 2011):
2011 - Las Vegas, Nevada
2010 - New Orleans, Louisiana
2009 - San Antonio, Texas
2008 - Minneapolis, Minnesota
2007 - Louisville, Kentucky
2006 - ??
2005 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (when it was still Career Masters Institute)
2004 - Atlanta, Georgia (CMI)
2003 - Kansas City, Missouri (CMI)
2002 - San Diego, California (CMI)

Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches
(discontinued conferences in 2004?)
2004 - St. Pete Beach, Florida
2003 - Las Vegas, Nevada
2002 - Dallas, Texas
2001 - Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida
2000 - Toronto, Canada
1999 - Colorado Springs, Colorado