Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Last fall, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and other schools partnered with Walmart and two health systems to test how different combos of text messages affect flu vaccination rates. The messages went to 50,000 primary care patients and 700,000 Walmart pharmacy patients.

For the primary care patients, the winning message set boosted vaccination rates 11%. It consisted of one text 72 hours before the appointment and a second 24 hours in advance. The first message encouraged people to request a flu shot at their appointment to protect themselves and people they know. …

Some thoughts for what COVID-19 means for those of us who are self-employed

This was originally published March 25 at Microbiz MBA. Head there for weekly updates.


Though we won’t know officially for a few months,* we’re almost certainly in a recession now. And it seems likely this slowdown will continue through the spring and summer, and possibly into the fall. It also seems likely that it will be bad.

The country — heck, most of the world — is shutting down trade and commerce. Businesses are closing or cutting back, people are losing their jobs, we’re all staying home more and spending less. This is not good.

Here’s the thing: If we…

Making more money is perpetually on the list of goals for many freelancers. And even if you’re satisfied with your freelance earnings, you still need to pay attention to maintaining those profits, which means getting new clients or additional revenues to make up for client attrition over time.

When big companies want to grow, they have a variety of strategies they can use: entering new markets, launching new products, pumping more money into their marketing efforts, or even buying other companies. All of these strategies, though, require considerable money, time and expertise that most freelancers don’t have.

Every freelancer’s growth…

(Part 1 of this post was originally published on here.)

As the end of the year comes into sight, many freelancers will spend some time reviewing how 2018 went and making plans for 2019. Whether you’ve been self-employed for decades or just a few months, end-of-year planning is a valuable tool for creating the business and the life that you want.

In just the last two years, my end-of-year planning has helped me:

  • Drop services that didn’t play to my strength and focus on the areas where I can deliver the most value for clients.
  • Drop clients that weren’t…

“You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”

— Legendary sports writer Walter Wellseley “Red” Smith in 1949, when asked whether writing a daily column was difficult*

After 25-plus years as a professional writer, I’ve come to believe that the essence of creativity is not in the moments that words are first set down but in revision.

For any writing project, whether it’s this weekly missive, a blog post for a client or a feature story for a magazine, I spend as much time, or more, on revision as I do the initial draft. Sometimes first…

I figure that, at best, I’m good for four or five focused hours of writing or other creative work each day. After that, I might as well as sharpen pencils or something.

Nonetheless, there are days when I need to get in more than four or five hours because I’m on deadline for a big project or trying to finish something before I go on vacation.

In those cases, I’ve developed a few techniques to coerce my brain into cranking out a few hundred more words that day. Maybe they’ll be helpful to you.

Pencils, coffee, computer. Image via Pexels.

1. Change the scenery. Sometimes simply…

Mark Tosczak

Freelance writer/editor/consultant. Founder & publisher of The Persuasion Report:

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