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Stet | March 2016

01 Mar 2016 10:23 AM | Anonymous
Stet Newsletter
March 2016

Volume 35 | Number 3

Editor's Note

Stet Editor Cynthia TomusiakCynthia Tomusiak

March is upon us. Is it winter or is it spring, in the Chicagoland area? Our changing weather makes it hard to tell. March also makes this my third issue of Stet as your editor.

I would like to thank everyone who has weighed in and given advice or comments. Roger has done most of the heavy lifting – thank you Roger!! I have done most of the requesting and reading of articles.

I would like to thank everyone who has weighed in and given advice or comments.

I am really enjoying being the editor! However, when we transitioned to the new format, I took over as the interim editor. Interim because the board, myself included, decided that this position should be opened to all IWOC members and formally assigned. Please see the request for submissions for more information. 

In this issue, you will also find the first member profile of the month (me) as requested in last month’s issue. With the board’s help, I decided to change it up a little and create a list questions to be answered. This way, the profile is not just what we might find on your resume nor something you will have to come up with on your own. Although, I will be happy to print what you want to send me if it is different from the question list. I am still refining the process, but I will have some to help IWOC-ers can get to know each other a little better. Networking in the newsletter! 

As always, suggestions are welcome!

I am happy to accept other submissions, book reviews, short articles of interest or current events. I am planning to add some writing or tech tips. As always, suggestions are welcome! Finally, Karen Schwartz asked me to pass along that the ASJA's (American Society of Journalists and Authors) 45th Annual Writers Conference this May 21st and 22nd in New York City.

As a reminder, all submissions are due on the 15th of the month prior to publication on the first of the next month. So April submissions are due March 15th. Thanks for your assistance.

- Cynthia Tomusiak

March Meeting Preview

Accounting Can Work for You

Photo by Cynthia Tomusiak

As a writer, do numbers make you cringe? Would you rather go to the dentist than balance your business check book?

As a writer, do numbers make you cringe?

When you hear the term ‘bookkeeping’ do you think that you forgot to return your library books? Do you think that depreciation is someone not appreciating you? 

To get the answers to these questions, and more, join your fellow IWOC-ers for our regular monthly evening of networking and learning as Mary A. Lynch, CPA, Mary Lynch & Associates, Inc. helps you select accounting approaches that work for you. She has been a CPA since 1985 and will clarify options that fit you and your goals. Her firm specializes in small-business owners, working with you to make the numbers speak your language. 

Confidently select accounting approaches that work for you!

Mary will cover: 

  • A variety of systems that can be used to do your bookkeeping, both paper and computer 
  • Best practices for bookkeeping 
  • Identify theft issues
  • How to choose an accountant 
  • Buying equipment and depreciation of the equipment
  • When taxs are due and what should be filed. 
  • Tax laws that freelance writers need to be aware of 
  • What business structure is right for a freelance writer

When it comes to money, Mary wants you to spend less than you make, diversify your savings and/or investments and, finally, don't panic! So join us Tuesday, March 8th at 5:00pm for more information, networking and fellowship! 

- Sally Chapralis

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February Meeting Recap

Freelance Photojournalism

Peter Bella

Chicago-based freelance writer and photojournalist Peter Bella, offered his first-hand advice to IWOC-ers at the February meeting. Bella is a photo-journalist, blogger and is working on authoring his first cookbook.

Prior to launching a freelance-writing career, Bella gained much of his street-wise expertise in a different arena, as a Chicago police officer assigned to take professional-style photos of what had occurred at violent crime scenes. 

At the meeting, he discussed some of the changes in the photo-journalism business. He emphasized that the changes are so recent and plentiful, it is hard to say where the industry is going. As a photo-journalist, you usually work with, join or get accepted to an agency. From there, you go shoot photographs, and they sell the rights to the photo for you. The average is $6.00-$12.00/photograph. He did sell a two-year-old photograph, three times, for a total of $1500. He also said that was lucky. He pointed out that micro-stock agencies are buying up the bigger agencies. These micro-stock agencies are only offering 20% as compared to the 80% that large agencies used to pay. This has created a turmoil in the business. 

The photography world has gone from snap shots and quality photos to I-phone photos that can be used all over the Internet.

The photography world has gone from snap shots and quality photos to I-phone photos that can be used all over the Internet. However, I-phone photographs will not make the cover of quality magazines, so there is still a place for quality photographs. He cautioned that most work is on speculation, and it takes a long time to get paid. 

As a freelance photographer, rates vary with geography. He can make $175/day in this area, but the same work in New York pays $200-$250/day. He turned down the chance to go to Ferguson and photograph the protests, that would have paid $180/day. He was glad he did because he knew someone who went. He was told that there was no where to eat and almost nowhere to sleep. 

Peter’s business advice to freelancers:

  • Look to where you can cut costs, especially in memberships – only keep those that have a real benefit.
  • Network – get out and meet people - everywhere and often.
  • Think outside the box.
  • Find your niche – but beware that it can be too narrow and confining – and expensive for photographers.
  • Work on understanding millennials and what they want – for him, it is movies rather than photos.
  • Understand “the uniform” some places and events require a style of dress to get people to talk to you. 

IWOC Members:
Click here to access the meeting podcast!

Finally, he gave some tips for freelance writers who are looking for a photographer to work with. It is very helpful to learn if you get along with them, you have to work together so it is easier if you get along with each other. Take the time to find out what they do; a photographer will not buy a brand-new lens just for one shoot with you. So look at their website and see if they take photos of what you write about. There are times when it might be cheaper to buy the rights to a stock photo.

- Cynthia Tomusiak

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President's Column

Let's Combat "Good Enough"

David Steinkraus

For a little while a magazine-editor friend sent me head shots. Whenever his frustration overflowed I’d get a couple with sarcastic comments, so we could marvel over the lack of quality in the images. These photos were for a professional magazine, and you would think professional people would take care with the image they present to the world. You would think. 

They didn’t. There was the woman wrapped in a heavy winter coat and scarf so little more than her eyes was visible. There was the guy against a brick wall and looking either still drunk or hung over. And almost all of these pictures were taken with cell phone or computer cameras whose wide-angle lenses create a funhouse distortion of reality. Separate from these was a photo I saw by following a link from some story to the author’s profile. Her face was greatly overexposed, her eyes retouched to be slightly underexposed. The effect was of a big-eyed alien recently escaped from the X-Files. 

Last month’s meeting put this in my mind when our speaker talked about the culture of “good enough.”

Last month’s meeting put this in my mind when our speaker talked about the culture of “good enough.” You don’t need to hire a professional photographer; everybody’s a photographer now, and a cell phone camera is good enough. The problem is we usually hear from only one end of the communication chain: The people who sell good-enough services and assert that good enough is good enough. We don’t hear directly from the other end of the communication chain, except I believe we do. I think one reason people endlessly surf and click from one website to another, and one reason companies complain about their inability to engage an audience, is precisely because so much “content” is created to be good enough. People aren’t engaged because good enough is not compelling. Make something good — like a Ken Burns documentary or a 700-page Harry Potter or Game of Thrones novel — and people stay. 

In writing and web content, the same principle applies as in those photos my friend sent: People do not take seriously those who do not take themselves or their work seriously. This, too, is another point in favor of IWOC’s members because how many of us walked away from the corporate world in part because large organizations limit how much good work people can do? 

Meantime, have you considered the photo that is your first introduction to strangers? Do you have a professionally done photograph of yourself or a cell phone good-enough? If the latter, perhaps you want to call on another independent Chicago professional — perhaps one of the photographers in the Chicago Creative Coalition — to create a first-rate image. One session, and you will have a photograph that you can use and reuse for years on your website, LinkedIn, and elsewhere. 

The more public spaces IWOC appears in, the greater the chance we will be noticed by a potential member.

There is another way we can support each other and combat the culture of good enough, and all it requires is a break at your favorite coffee shop. On the IWOC website, you will find a PDF copy of a flyer telling people about our organization, and another flyer advertising IWOC as the solution for people who need writers. Print off a copy of each, stop by your favorite coffee shop, and tack the flyers up on whatever public surface the shop designates for postings about lost animals and available services. You never know who will walk by, and the more public spaces IWOC appears in, the greater the chance we will be noticed by a potential member or a potential client.

- David Steinkraus

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IWOC Members

Survey Says: Networking!

Cynthia Tomusiak

In the newsletter, I discussed my desire to help other IWOC members get to know each other better. The board came up with an idea that might help get members to talk about themselves: a fun survey! Since it was my idea, originally, I thought I would start: 

What is playing in your car right now? The first channel on my radio is classical music, WFMT-Chicago, I like calm, relaxing music in the car to help keep me calm and relaxed while driving. I am a rock and roll fan, so sometimes I turn the volume up so I can sing along at the top of my lungs and annoy the other drivers. Lastly, I recently discovered “books on tape”. I know; they are actually on compact disks and have been around for a long time. I never thought I would like them. I do. And the library has lots; for free! 

What is the craziest thing you have ever done? The craziest thing I have ever done is join the volunteer fire department when I was in college – right after my parents told me “NO more extracurricular activities until your grades improve!”. Did I mention I did not tell them? For a year?

Right after my parents told me “NO more extracurricular activities until your grades improve!”.

That also makes it my best-kept secret.) However, it was also one of the best things I have ever done as it led to an amazing career. I have been in the fire service for almost 30 years. I have decided to ease up on the more physical aspects of the career to write about it and teach fire service related classes. Thus being a member of IWOC, which is another of the best things I’ve done! 

Where did you go to school? I went to DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana for my bachelor’s degree, in psychology. After that, I started taking classes at College of Lake County and after many, many years got my Associates degree in Fire Science. I also went to work there a few years ago. Finally, I obtained a Master’s of Science in Threat and Response Management (or as l like to explain, “Emergency Management on steroids”) from the University of Chicago. 

Well, those are a few things about me that you might not know. Hopefully, the questionnaire approach will make it easier for you to submit information and the column more fun yet still useful. I hope to continue this section of the newsletter and get to know more IWOC-ers! 

The questions for next month are: 1) How long have you been a member of IWOC? 2) What is your specialty? 3) What one line of advice would you give a client working with a writer? 4) Who’s your favorite superstar? 5) What is your favorite food? Stay tuned!

- Cynthia Tomusiak

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Openings at IWOC

In November, IWOC’s Board of Directors appointed an interim Editor for Stet and an interim Membership Manager. We’re nearing the end of those appointment periods, so we are opening those positions to members interested in permanently filling them.

Stet Editor

As editor you will assign or solicit articles as needed, gather art, and give IWOC a great public face.

If you find yourself listing ways to improve Stet as you read it each month, or just have a knack for newsletters, the editor’s job should be right in your wheelhouse. Because we’re entering a new era with Stet as an e-newsletter, there’s even more opportunity to create something fresh, memorable, and that will look great on your resume. As editor you will assign or solicit articles as needed, gather art, and give IWOC a great public face. You’ll have the creative freedom to write your own articles if you wish, as well as come up with ideas about how Stet could be even more engaging, entertaining and informative. Although it’s published electronically, you don’t need technical skills to do this; we use a template from our membership management system so preparing the newsletter mostly means pasting text in the right places. And there’s plenty of help if you get stuck.

Membership Manager

If you’re interested in these jobs, please tell us why and what ideas and skills you would bring to them.

Our Membership Manager looks after IWOC’s people. That involves answering questions from members and people thinking of becoming members, reminders about renewal periods, and ensuring information in our member database stays current. Sounds computer-ish, but it isn’t, and there’s plenty of free support and advice. In the future the duties of the job may also include more involvement in member outreach and engagement.

You get paid! Money comes with these positions in acknowledgement of the time involved. Stet pays $250 per month, and the membership manager position pays $150 per month. All we ask in return is that you commit to doing these jobs consistently. Which means as editor, putting out a monthly publication of Stet and as Membership Manager, taking care of member matters and initiatives as they come up.

If you’re interested in these jobs, please tell us why and what ideas and skills you would bring to them. Put all of that in an email and send it to me at no later than the last day of March. Send questions to me, too, at the same address.

- David Steinkraus

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