Writing with Impact

There’s no such thing as generic “good” writing. Writing quality—and impact—comes from how well it fits its purpose. This course shows how to give all your writing more impact, regardless of its purpose. Writer and journalist Tom Geller helps you find your own reasons for writing, demonstrating how to use those reasons to drive the words you choose and the tone you take. Plus, he shares how to leverage your understanding of grammar and sentence structure to write nearly anything with maximum impact. Upon completing this course, you’ll be equipped with practical tips for making your prose clear, concise, and right for its specific purpose.

Writing White Papers

White papers were originally produced by governments, but now serve a vital purpose in marketing departments worldwide. A white paper is a deep dive into a concept, initiative, or product, designed to educate and persuade by framing issues in a clear way. In this course, corporate communications pro Tom Geller leads you through the format, purposes, and uses of white papers; helps you define what you want your paper to be; and then helps you make it a reality. You’ll finish this course with information about where white papers fit in the greater business ecosystem—and how to make your paper the best it can be.

Jae Nulton

Thank you! I only wanted to tell you that I throughly enjoyed your course. You are an amazing public speaker. You just earned a follower. I went through your course with a pen and paper to take notes of the great ideas. I had 3 full pages! By the time I am done adding my views I will likely have about 9-12 pages.

Christina Furore

Thank you for the effort you put into [your video course] Freelancing Fundamentals. I appreciated your honest presentation, as well as your instructive and kind manner of speaking. The videos were well organized and gave great examples and resources for further learning.

Writing Case Studies

Screenshot from "Writing Case Studies"

Another in a series of “genre writing” courses. Previous ones are Writing Formal Business Letters and Emails and Writing Articles. Available on Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning.

Course description as published:

If you have helped a customer achieve success, you can document it in a case study, which is how you tell the world about it. In this course, learn about typical types of case studies, which fit both online and print formats. Explore strategies for making a compelling case study. Find out how to avoid some common pitfalls.

Topics include:

  • Benefits of case studies
  • Examples of case studies
  • Examining who reads case studies
  • Narrowing your audience
  • Appealing to different audiences
  • Formatting and style
  • Inspiring empathy while interviewing the customer
  • Gaining buy-in and getting the customer to tell your story
  • Extracting and organizing quotes
  • Writing a case study
  • Incorporating additional media
  • Avoiding common pitfalls

In praise of business travel

Travel ennobles, emboldens, and improves.

Business travel is expensive, exhausting — and often irreplaceable. Yes, virtual reality is getting better, and I’ve wasted many an evening “touring” distant places on Google Maps Street View, like the cafe that was my “office” for years. So with the cost of meals, travel, business hotels, and lost office time, how do you justify it?

I outline five purposes for business travel in the new LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com course, Traveling for Business. Three of them — Events, Scouting, and Sales trips — produce measurable results, such as resumés collected or leads gathered. Metrics like these are the food of ROI calculations, but it’s short-sighted to look only at the numbers.

(Want to know the other two travel purposes? Watch this free video from the course.)

So here are three other, unmeasurable benefits you miss by staying

  • You discover subtleties of place. I’ve been shopping for a condo in my adopted city in The Netherlands. There’s one development that looks really good on paper, well-located and cheap. But walking up to the unit I felt the loose railing, and saw the chipped stairs and flickering lights. Smells, ambient noise, aggressive neighbors… none of these come through a computer screen. Nor does the mood in the office of a prospective partner, or the way a prospective employee shakes your hand.
  • Serendipity leads you to opportunities. I’ve come to believe that the best parts of conferences happen in the hallways — so much so that I’ll sometimes skip a low-priority session just to hang out and see what happens. Certainly you should do what you came for. But don’t be surprised if your most-profitable meetings happen on the hotel shuttle. (Remember to carry business cards everywhere!)
  • You grow. Travel ennobles, emboldens, and improves. It provides context for the little tasks we do in our offices; it shows how others accomplish in environments different from our own. Its slow times force the individual to look inwards, while surmounting its challenges imparts confidence for the next trip. People who travel learn something about themselves and their place in the world, regardless of the trip’s ostensible purpose. A smarter person makes smarter decisions, and the whole organization benefits.

Besides all of this: Business travel, done with adequate preparation and resources, is just plain fun. The same plane that takes you to a sales meeting is also taking families to their vacation. And while you’ll be obliged to perform for eight (or ten, or even twelve) hours a day, that leaves plenty of time to absorb and enjoy the joy of the new.

So certainly: Have videoconferences. Outsource remote services. And explore the world in Google Maps. But don’t forget to someday walk into that cafe, smell the fresh cookies, and shake the barista’s hand.


Tom Geller is the author/presenter of several video courses available through Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning, including Freelancing Foundations and Writing Formal Business Letters and Emails. He’s at tomgeller.com and tgprods.com, and on Twitter as tgeller.


Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/praise-business-travel-tom-geller

Traveling for Business

Travel is expensive, so you need to be sure your time “on the road” justifies the investment. In this course, Tom Geller outlines what you need to do before, during, and after your business trip to keep yourself comfortable, meet your client’s or employer’s objectives, and take care of your home while you’re away. Learn the tools you need to stay in touch with the office, and find out how to pack a “go bag” that prepares you for business. Tom also provides guidance on managing transportation and staying safe in your new city, and outlines tips for reporting back what you’ve learned when you return home, so each trip is easier and more productive than the last.

Topics include:

  • Setting up a mobile office
  • Planning travel
  • Securing your home and office before you leave
  • Getting work done on the road
  • Getting comfortable in a new location
  • Planning your next trip

Writing Formal Business Letters and Emails

Learn how to write formal business letters and emails that are short, clear, and to the point. This course teaches you how to get results and build better relationships with clients, colleagues, and customers. Writer and journalist Tom Geller helps you clarify your goals, research your topic and intended audience, and structure your correspondence. Plus, get tips about writing for accessibility—making your writing comprehensible, concise, and appropriate for all readers—and following up on communication.

Topics include:

  • Defining your goals
  • Conducting research
  • Setting the tone
  • Writing for accessibility
  • Sending reminders
  • Continuing the conversation

Public relations services

Logo of the Grey Group

After four years in technology journalism, I “jumped the fence” to become a Senior Account Executive at GCI Group (now part of Grey Global Group). I specialized in high-tech clients, including Sun, Qualcomm, Globalstar, and Penguin Computing. Later founded Silicon Valley P.R. (sold in 2002).

Candace Chapman

We engaged Tom to write the marketing materials for a large and important product launch. It was one of the best decisions we made in the entire process.

Commerce Guys rebranding project

This online-commerce software company hired me to help re-tool their product line’s branding and marketing during a one-week onsite summit at their Paris offices. This involved group brainstorming, production of new content, and iteration, leading to a highly successful launch. They later hired me to return for other on-site projects, in both their Paris and Ann Arbor offices, and I provided ongoing services remotely.

Untried techniques? Budget extra time.

I’ve been busy working on a 45-second teaser trailer for my documentary-in-development, Almost a Brain. Here’s a 10-second sneak peek of just the tagline.

This trailer is taking a lot longer than expected. Last night I realized why: I want to set the project’s entire tone from the beginning. That’s a tall order! In the process I’ve learned been forced to learn new techniques to make it look, sound, and feel as I want. For example: Some of the lighting effects looked great in After Effects and Premiere, but terrible with my usual export settings. Video is a fickle mistress!

This is actually the second trailer I created. The first was somewhat rushed, as if meeting a short deadline, and done in a style familiar from my ACM videos. But then I threw the whole thing away and started again. My entire process has had to change for this project — I think it’s for the better, and hope the results demonstrate that.

The process has served as a reminder that new projects need extra time. It’s a corrollary to the old saying, “Practice makes perfect”: When you do something for the first time, you’ve never practiced it before. So expect imperfections — and then plan time to sand them away. The payoff is twofold: First, you’ll be proud of your project. Second, you’ll add new skills that make you more dextrous, flexible, and marketable.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/untried-techniques-budget-extra-time-tom-geller

Freelancers: You, too, can work at LinkedIn Top Companies

They’re big and well-established, but they need our nimbleness

On Thursday, LinkedIn released its list of 50 “top” U.S. companies, based on site engagement, job applications, and employee retention. (There are also lists for Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, India, and the U.K..)

LinkedIn mostly focuses on salaried employees, but there are also freelancing opportunities at these companies — if you know where to look. Here are some tips I’ve collected from freelancing at such companies as Apple, Wells-Fargo, and Qualcomm. (I cover many of these topics in my LinkedIn Learning course, “Freelancing Foundations“.)

  • Target departments, not companies. Only companies with at least 500 employees made the LinkedIn list. That’s way too many people for the H.R. department to know what everybody’s doing, so a pitch sent there is likely to get lost in the shuffle. Instead, target your efforts at departments that are likely to need your skills. That takes research — and possibly sending a few InMails.
  • Get your house in order. Companies often turn to freelancers to complete short-term projects: They want straightforward professionals ready to just walk in and do the job. The more you can show that you’re such a person — for example through a web portfolio, business cards, and client endorsements — the better your chances of attracting their attention.
  • Be prepared to do paperwork… and wait. Big companies have big bureaucracies. They might require freelancers to have business insurance, or be contracted via purchase order, or submit expenses through some arcane system. Then you might have to wait for all that paperwork to be processed before you ever start work (or see a check).
  • Be diligent and patient. Approach large companies as long-term investments of your time. But in turn, they can turn into clients who come back to you for years. (They don’t want to go through all that paperwork again for someone else!)

Are you a freelancer who’s had success with big clients? Share your tips in the comments below.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/freelancers-you-too-can-work-linkedin-top-companies-tom-geller

When business travel goes wrong: location, location, location

To get something accomplished, first make sure you’re in the right country. According to an article in the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad yesterday, some protesters missed that point when they accidentally put pressure on the rural government of Rotterdam, New York (population: 30,000) instead of The Netherlands’ second-largest city.

Such errors happen surprisingly often, even among business travel professionals. Years ago, I was planning travel to Santa Ana and asked the company’s travel agent if I could stay at a certain hotel chain. “I’m afraid it’s not available,” she said. “How about the one in Sacramento?” (Note: The two are a seven-hour drive apart.)

O.K., those are both extreme examples. But when you book a room, you’re balancing among a dozen criteria: room quality, parking, food options, exercise amenities, and so forth. For business travel, I believe you should consider location high on priority list. Here’s why:

  • Most business trips involve at least two main locations: Your hotel and the meeting place. The closer the two are, the less unproductive time you’ll spend in transit — and, more importantly, the fewer things likely to go wrong and make you late for appointments.
  • For trips around a group event (such as a convention), a lot of the real action happens “in the hallways” — those serendipitous times you see a high-value colleague in the hotel lobby or on the shuttle bus.
  • In city environments especially, one block’s distance can make a world of difference with regard to noise and safety. Unless you know the city already, you could pay with your sleep or comfort.

So what makes a good location? In short, it’s one that helps you fulfill the purpose of your trip. Although the examples above suggest that closer is better, that’s not always true. For example, you might be on a trip that requires you to travel to several places in a day: You might be best served by a place with good parking (regardless of location), or at the center point of public transit.

Such places might actually be outside of your target city, for example in a nearby suburb on the city’s “right” side. I’m a fan of Google Maps for figuring out travel times and neighborhood conditions. Its Street View is particularly helpful, letting me virtually walk around to suss out nearby eateries, walking conditions, and (perceived) neighborhood safety. You’ll also immediately see if you’ve made a grave mistake — like thinking you can commute from Sacramento to Santa Ana.

Did you stay in a location that helped (or hindered) your trip in unexpected ways? I’d love to read your stories in the comments below!

Tom Geller is the author of the LinkedIn Learning video course “Freelancing Fundamentals“. He serves American and European clients from his home in Rotterdam — the one in The Netherlands.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/right-hotel-oh-so-wrong-place-tom-geller

Candace Chapman

Tom is a strong creative and technical writer, and quickly captured the voice we needed for the launch materials. He was open to input and changes, highly responsive, and readily available throughout the entire project, even on nights and weekends and when separated by continents.

David Williams, Comfe Designs

A quick note of thanks for your videos, especially for the point about putting aside time for doing stuff not related to work. Great reminder. Thanks again.

Computing’s Narrow Focus May Hinder Women’s Participation

Article as it appeared on the web

I was afraid to work on this article about the gender gap in computing because it’s a topic surrounded by dogma, strong feelings, and poorly conceived statistics. As a result, most coverage on it is timid and shallow. But I think the hours of interviewing and research paid off. I’m happy with how it turned out. Online-only.

It’s gotten lots of coverage:

Up and Running with Bitcoin (2014)

Screenshot from Up and Running with Bitcoin

Description by lynda.com: “Understand the basics of bitcoin, the popular virtual currency, and then learn the nuances of bitcoin transactions and security issues that can be difficult to navigate on your own. Tom Geller addresses both the big and small issues swirling around bitcoin right now, and prepares you to use or accept bitcoin as a currency for your transactions. Discover how bitcoin compares to US dollars and other forms of money; how to send, receive, and “mine” it; and how to protect and track your bitcoin transactions. Tom will even show you how to connect with the Bitcoin development community, in case you’re interested in contributing to the spread of this modern cryptocurrency.”

Advice from Alumni: Freelancing Basics

Screenshot of video as it appears on Oberlin College site

A done-in-one short video, with minor cutaways. Me giving advice to Oberlin College students on how to get started as a freelancer. Requested by the Oberlin College and Conservatory’s Career Center, and promoted at http://oberlin.edu/career/students/advice_from_alumni.html.

Candace Chapman

It was a pleasure to work with Tom, as he has a collaborative spirit and gets along easily with others. The product launch was a great success due in no small part to Tom’s work. I highly recommend him!

James D’Angelo

Your article is easily the best piece I’ve read on Bitcoin, and its safe to say I’ve read a thousand or more. Here’s to hoping there’s more great stuff coming.

Going global with QuarkXPress 7

Article as it appeared in email

Written for the the premiere issue of a newsletter by software publisher Quark, this article discusses their flagship product’s globalization-friendly features.

Building WingNuts in Xcode with OpenGL: Freeverse Creates a Great Mac-only Game

Article as it appeared on the web

An article for the Apple Developer Connection that shows how Apple technologies facilitated the creation and production of a game. Copy available on request.

Intro: “The 11-person team at Freeverse, Inc. might be small, but the company has scored big with the action arcade game Wingnuts 2: Raina’s Revenge , which won the 2006 Eddy Award for Best Game and was named runner-up for the 2006 Apple Design Awards for Best Mac Game. Freeverse created a fun and addictive game, and according to the development team, the road to outstanding creative development was paved with Apple technologies such as Xcode, QuickTime, Core Image, the platform’s OpenGL implementation, and Mac OS X as a whole.”

From Student Project to Retail Distribution: Lineform Uses Xcode and Core Image

Article as it appeared on the web

An article for the Apple Developer Connection that shows how Apple technologies facilitated the creation and production of a graphic-design tool. Copy available on request.

Intro: “Will Thimbleby didn’t set out to write an illustration program. He needed to create drawings for a project, but he found he couldn’t afford the market-leading application and was unable to find a lower-cost option that suited him. So the 25-year-old doctoral student opened Apple’s Xcode tools and built his own.The result is Lineform, a vector drawing program that challenges the features of pricey competitors while sporting a far more accessible interface. His homegrown “scratch-an-itch” project won the 2006 Apple Design Award for Best Mac OS X Student Product, and soon after was picked up by software publisher Freeverse, Inc.”

Writing Articles

Screenshot from Writing Articles

In this course, author Tom Geller explores the process of writing articles and publications for businesses large and small. The course begins with a look at the preparation you’ll need to do, best ways to find assignments, and smart strategies for determining your article approach. Next, the course dives into techniques you can use to brainstorm angles, research, interview experts, finish a piece, and build your portfolio.

Dave Bish

I learned Drupal entirely from your videos. Last week I got my first contract role as a Drupal developer and it’s great. I’m working for a bunch of highly intelligent guys, yet even they have been blown away with what I’ve been able to do in such a short time with Drupal and what you taught me. Seriously, mate, thank you. I think the fact that your videos are so easy to watch and enjoy made a huge difference.

Freelancing Fundamentals

Screenshot from Freelancing Fundamentals

In this course, author and seasoned freelancer Tom Geller shows you how to prepare for a transition to freelancing. Begin by taking a look at your career goals, the systems that will support you, and proper ways to plan for success. Find out how to marshal your resources, refine your portfolio for presentation to clients, and estimate your costs to avoid any surprises on the financial front. Plus, discover how to create invoices, manage your books and taxes, expand your client base with marketing, and grow your business.

Frank Leone

Tom, your style is perfect. You explain things concisely and perfectly, and I never get bored watching anything you create.

David Gleason, Content Manager, Apple

Tom combines the ability to describe technical matters clearly with a gift for finding just the right phrase to highlight a product’s advantage or intriguing quality. I’m looking forward to seeing more from Tom in the coming months!

Migrating a Web Site to Drupal

Cover of "Migrating a Web Site to Drupal" white paper

White paper to help clients define strategies and tactics for moving their web site to the content-management system Drupal.