Welcoming Silas

silas

May 28th, 2016 was a monumental day in my life, to say the least: we welcomed our son, Silas Daniel Quales. Perfectly healthy and arriving exactly one week before his due date, this little guy (weighing in at 6 lbs, 7 oz) has been such a joy. His timing was impeccable, as my husband was off nursing school for the summer so he was able to stay home to help me with Silas for the first 2.5 months of his life.

I took 6 weeks completely off work, during which time I admittedly got antsy to start back to work. I’m one of those people who is not happy if not productive, which usually means making money 🙂 When I did return to my clients and projects in mid-July, the transition was fairly seamless thanks to Jon also being home with us for another month.

Being a WAHM

Becoming a mom has made me appreciate my self-employed, work-from-home status just about a million times more than I did before. Having an easy going baby certainly helps me continue to be productive during the day at home, and I’ve been able to easily plan meetings and on-site engagements on days when my husband is available or when my family members watch Silas for half days. I plan to keep working diligently to grow my business so I can continue freelancing for years to come, so I can be home with my little boy as he grows up!

With that said, I am currently looking to pick up additional projects in my areas of expertise, including writing, editing, content strategy and qualitative research/analysis. I have about 20 hours a week open at this time for additional work. Just shoot me an email at danielle.quales@gmail.com if you have needs in any of those areas!

2016…off to a great start!

typewriter

I’m way past due for a blog post, so I thought I would write a quick post on what I’ve been up to in 2016 so far. I hope everyone else’s new year is going just as well!

I continue to work as a contract content specialist for my longest-term customer Vantiv, creating Help articles, training content (such as how-to video scripts and PPT decks) and marketing support for their revamped customer-facing payments processing platform, Vantiv iQ. It’s been a huge undertaking; I’ve been on the project since July 2013 when I was brought on to conduct user research in the field. I feel privileged to still be working with the team, and am looking forward to this project coming full circle later this year.

I’ve also been engaged by Vantiv’s Marketing department to write a regular, year-long blog series. I write 20+ research-based blog posts per month about topics of interest to merchants that process electronic payments, including credit and debit cards, EMV chip cards, digital wallet, mobile payments and NFC payments.

While the above two Vantiv projects are a close to 40-hour-per-week commitment, I also continue to support a variety of smaller projects for other clients, including:

  • Serving as a writer on the large website refresh project for Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. I have refreshed web copy for 5 service lines so far, and continue to be brought in on more content as needed.
  • Serving as project manager and writer for the website refresh of Chicago-based genetic testing company Insight Medical Genetics.
  • Serving as content strategist and writer for the major overhaul of the 1,000+ page intranet site of Intuit.

Let’s work together in 2016! If you need freelance writing, editing or content strategy support, shoot me an email today: danielle.quales@gmail.com.

5 Ways to Maximize Your Contract Writing Team

writing-team

Let’s say you’ve made the decision to engage the time and talents of a contract writing team to beef up the content of your website. Now, what? To be sure you maximize your contract resources, keep these tips in mind:

Firm up your site map now. We can’t stress how important it is for you to engage your service line leaders, marketing team and IT support in order to create a highly detailed site map before the writing team comes along. An effective site map should include a listing of all pages, subpages and specific content that should be included on each page. If you don’t have the site map ready for your writers, you run the risk of the writers themselves burning a ton of hours fleshing out the site map — and their time is much better spent on writing.

Gather SME information. Communicate with your subject matter experts (SMEs) in advance to let them know the outside writing team will be contacting them. SMEs are usually busy doctors who don’t have a lot of time to sift through their email and it’s easy to ignore a message from an unfamiliar email address. If you can walk down the hall and chat with Dr. Smith about being a SME for your upcoming writing project or send an introductory email to introduce the writer, it can help keep things moving.

Settle on your brand voice and editorial style. Try to come to an internal agreement on your organization’s brand voice, as well as the editorial style and formatting you would like the writing team to use. Is it “healthcare” or “health care”? It’s up to you.

Be realistic about your internal team. Sure, you probably have a super internal marketing team and service line leaders that would love to help out on the writing that needs done, but you’ve hired a contract writing team for good reason: there simply aren’t enough hours in the day! At the same time, make sure the appropriate internal folks budget several hours each week to tackle edits, provide feedback and answer questions for the contract writers. If not, you run the risk of your writing project getting delaying because the writers are waiting for answers or edits that are impeding them from moving forward on the project.

Review sample pages. Especially when the writing team begins work on a new service line or when a new writer is brought onto the team, we recommend working with the team to review a couple sample pages to make sure everyone is — ahem — on the same page before charging ahead. There will likely be several rounds of reviews between the writing team’s own editor, your marketing department and SMEs, so make sure the content is on track before asking for too many hours out of everyone’s busy schedules.

Originally published on WriterGirl & Associates blog.

What Type of Content Audit is Right for You?

content-audit

Does the phrase “content audit,” make you want to hide under your desk? Run away and scream? Stress eat all the M&M’s at your desk?

Don’t worry. The idea of doing a content audit for your hospital’s website doesn’t have ruin your day. In fact, a content audit can help make your days easier. A content audit allows you to comprehensively and accurately understand your website better.

All you have to do is pick the content audit that’s right for you. We know that oftentimes, a budget drives breadth and depth of a content audit. But we believe any type of content audit —done well — is going make your website better.

  1. Quantitative auditJust like it sounds, this is a basic list of all of the content in your digital properties. Use this type of audit when you need to quickly determine how much content you have.
  2. Qualitative auditHere you perform a more in-depth analysis of all of the writing, multimedia, accuracy and value of the content. Use this type of audit when you need a deeper understanding of how valuable your content is.
  3. Mapping audit: Here you visualize the content in the form of a site tree, but it’s more than just the Information Architecture (IA). You highlight relationships between the pieces of content, allowing you to understand how deeply layered your site is. Use this type of audit when you need to build a case for creating new content or changing something in your IA.
  4. Rolling audit: This is an ongoing, cyclical process that involves choosing one branch of your site in which to begin your audit, fully auditing that branch and then, in turn, auditing the rest of your site branches. Once you reach the branch in which you began your audit, begin again.
  5. Thin slice audit: When you have limited time or budget, audit a few select pages within a site branch to get a “thin slice” view of the content that lives in this section. We don’t recommend this type as a long-term strategy.

Need help with your next content audit? That’s what we’re here for. Email us today to find out more.

Originally published on WriterGirl & Associates blog.

Apples & Oranges

B2B_B2C

I’ve been fortunate to have been able to get involved in some B2C projects lately–both on the research and writing fronts. The new B2C projects have been mostly in the CPG industry and, interestingly, the target for most of these projects has been the same: mom. Wow, what a very different audience than the payments processing customers for whom I’ve been researching, designing and writing since July 2013 at Vantiv!

I’m always thankful for the great volume of B2B projects I’ve had over the past 2 years of freelancing, but have been eager to expand my skills into the consumer side of things. Writing for consumers is so incredibly different than writing for B2B industries. I really like that image I found for this blog; the old “apples and oranges” adage is certainly applicable here.

Much of the B2B writing I’ve done is more on the technical writing side–like a whole lot of system documentation and instructions at Vantiv. In that kind of writing, getting your point across very clearly and efficiently is most important. In consumer-facing writing these characteristics, of course, continue to be important–but it’s also key that your writing grabs the attention of your audience. For virtually every product or service consumer marketing is trying to sell, the competition is stiff. B2C marketers have literally mere seconds to capture their target audience’s time and attention. With the continual onslaught of information in today’s technological age, consumers’ attention span has grown increasingly short.

This kind of short-form writing has been a new challenge for me–one that I’m excited to tackle and know that I am improving in with each day! I hope to continue to take on a wide variety of projects throughout 2015–and beyond.

Writing, Editing and Project Managing for WriterGirl

writergirl

I’ve recently began writing some blog posts (they’re not live quite yet, though) for WriterGirl, a digital healthcare content company for which I’ve been an associate for almost a year now. It’s been a great experience working with the folks there; I started out as a writer–which I continue to do and enjoy–but have also recently began picking up projects as an editor and a project manager. I love new adventures!

Anyway, I was cruising their blog this morning and came across this recent post by Jessica entitled “5 Lessons Every Marketer Can Learn from Frozen.” It’s a very fun and informative article! I always love a good Disney reference. Be sure to check it out!

Blogging…Professionally!

blogging

I got my first regular, professional blogging gig last week. As popular of a digital content type that it is, the vast majority of the writing I’ve done professionally so far has been static website content–mostly marketing-type content, but also quite a bit of technical writing. I’m a long-winded academic at heart, so taking on a longer-form project is always fun for me! I’ll be blogging regularly for Redstitch, a small digital agency with which I’ve worked for almost 2 years now. I’ll start with their in-house blog, then we hope to expand our blog offerings to their clients, so I have even more blog-writing projects soon.

Working in tandem with the new inbound marketing guru at Redstitch, the first blog series I developed is a series on marketing personas. This was a great topic with which to start–it’s super critical in today’s market and I have a ton of experience researching, developing and executing content based on targeted personas. Blogs are great because there’s often research involved (my favorite) and they’re a regular, ongoing gig. It will be fun to develop a tone for the Redstitch blog over time and–hopefully–a devoted readership! (Note: the blog isn’t live quite yet, but it should be fairly soon.)

Any tips for me as I begin blogging on digital marketing topics?