5 Steps to Dissolve Your Writer’s Block (with nods to Cory Eridon, Seth Godin & Nick Usborne)

In his blog today on Hubspot, writer Cory Eridon provided 10 tips on how to overcome writer’s block. Visit  http://bit.ly/11sq7k5 to read more.

But in today’s blog posting, I have five tips of my own, a couple of which overlap with Cory’s and others which have come from my own writing experience. Read on.

(1)   “What should I write about? “ This question comes up when you don’t know how to choose (or even think up) a topic for your blog posting, social media stream, etc.  When you’re surfing the net or reading anything at all, keep a list (hard copy, if necessary) of interesting and useful topics. AWAI-trained, Ontario-based copywriter John Wood has written powerful articles on combatting the topic shortage, available as free content. See  http://bit.ly/YXDFlf

If you’re an organization or company, hire me to write for you! I’m a curious and creative copywriter and editor, with wide-ranging interests.

(2)   “I’m not comfortable with my writing ‘persona’ or voice. As Cory himself suggests, write as if you were speaking to a valued colleague in your field. Be sure to avoid jargon and bafflegab.  It’s your ideas, not the language in which you couch them, that determine the value of your writing. Don’t try to disguise a lack of thinking in big language. Continue reading “5 Steps to Dissolve Your Writer’s Block (with nods to Cory Eridon, Seth Godin & Nick Usborne)”

5 Tips for Using LinkedIn to Make Your Business Grow (Courtesy of Wayne Breitbarth. . . Part Two)

In today’s blog posting, I’ll conclude my reporting on some of the highlights of Breitbarth’s five-part online tutorial on “How to Optimize Your New Li Profile” (on his powerformula site for LinkedIn). My goal is to help you optimize your use of LI, either as a client of a service or as someone who provides that service to another. So let’s continue . . . .

Tip 3: Your Unique Brand

Some people don’t know that under “Edit Profile,” you can use the up-down arrow to move any section of the profile into a different position (i.e. change the order of sections). This will help you put sections of greater importance nearer to the top of your profile, which statistically increases your chance that it will be read.

Under the “Summary” section, you can click the icon to upload media files, and then make connections that increase your credibility and differentiate you from competitors. You’ll have a similar effect by placing links on the sections on projects, languages, publications, organizations, honours and awards, test scores, courses, certifications, volunteering and causes, and even patents.

Under “Job Experience,” you can list many jobs (Breitbarth recommends listing all you’ve ever held), and have their organization’s/company’s logo appear.

Under “Education,” you can include links to videos, presentations and slide shows.

Under “Interests,” you can add hobbies and newly here is displayed the feature “in Common With” that enables you to share with others who have similar interests.

And the earlier standardized list of content preferences has been replaced with a new section, “Advice for Contacting.” Here you share your preferred method of contact, so people can reach you (e.g. email, phone, etc.).

Continue reading “5 Tips for Using LinkedIn to Make Your Business Grow (Courtesy of Wayne Breitbarth. . . Part Two)”

5 Tips for Using LinkedIn to Make Your Business Grow (Courtesy of Wayne Breitbarth . . . Part One)

Recently, while doing some work in LinkedIn, I discovered that the network had closed its learner site (learn.linkedin.com) and that glitches had arisen for its weekly “LinkedIn Learning Webinars.” Feeling frustrated by having questions for which there seemed to be nowhere to turn, I returned to my well-thumbed copy of Wayne Breitbarth’s standard how-to volume on the network, The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-start Your Business, Brand and Job Search (Austin: Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2011). At the time of writing his study (2010-11), Breitbarth anticipated that there’d be many changes to the network (e.g. the “Questions” & “Answers” function has ended, as has the function for “applications”). So Breitbarth developed a training site of his own, to address new features of the network, at www.powerformula.net .

Since LinkedIn has limited training options, Breitbarth’s site has become a God-send to B2B business types who want to learn the network’s functions quickly and readily apply them. Today and next week, I’ll report on some of the highlights of Breitbarth’s own five-part blog, “How to Optimize Your New Li Profile,” to help you optimize your use of the network, either as a client of a service or as that service-provider. Some of his points refer to aspects of the network available only to paid subscribers. But the value of his details may well prompt you to increase your investment in the network, with one of the paid levels of subscription. For the features and rates of subscription, see http://linkd.in/Wx06k1

Tip 1: Headline, activity updates

Under the top box of a user’s profile, is the feature called “websites.” The network allows you to enter up to three separate URL addresses, which needn’t include your LI profile. And you can use up to 26 characters to describe these entries. Breitbarth suggests that you add the home page of your website, you or your company’s email sign-up page, your blog or testimonials’ page on your website and any articles, case studies or white papers on your or your company’s website.

Breitbarth recommends posting updates to the network at least three times per week (he is, after all, a “power user”) and to experiment with when you send each, every week, to determine optimal response rates (for lead-capturing).

Tip 2: Your Professional Gallery (video, photos, documents)

Recently, LinkedIn eliminated its “applications” function (e.g. SlideShare, Box.net, Amazon Reading List and others that Breitbarth visited in his 2011 book).  In their place has come “Your Professional Gallery.” Here you can share links to various media, such as video, images, documents, presentations (e.g. YouTube, Google Docs) and to your own website.  Links to this “gallery” can be placed in the “Summary,” “Experience” and “Education” sections of your profile. (Under “Edit Profile,” position yourself where you want to add media and simply click the “add media” icon. It will give you an “add a link” field and an image of your content will appear.)

Breitbarth recommends placing a “Call to Action” (CTA) on your headline, summary, website, projects and publications’ sections (that is, a banner, icon or piece of text that prompts the reader to click on it and continue down a conversion funnel).

In my next blog posting, I’ll conclude this précis of Breitbarth’s “powerformula” tips for using LinkedIn. Stay tuned: to be continued!

Three More Tips on Grammar, Diction and Punctuation (the fourth blog in this series) . . . .

Welcome to my fourth (and, for now, final) blog on language use for business and academic writers. You have likely noticed that I address this blog to non-specialist users of language, for whom terms like “subjunctive mood” and “conjunctive adverb” are foreign and potentially intimidating words, and for whom they needn’t be. Blogging on principles of language usage is something that I’ll return to, in the future. For now, however, here are three last tips that need more time and space to explain than those from earlier postings. Credit for today’s posting goes to Heffernan and Lincoln’s Writing: A College Handbook  (NY: W.W. Norton, 1990) and to Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (NY: Henry Holt, 2008). I also draw upon my experience as a writer and editor, in the examples that follow:

(1)   What is the subjunctive mood, anyway? Well, English verbs have moods that range from commands (the imperative mood: “Go to the door!”) to matter-of-fact assertions (the indicative mood: “No one came to the dance.”) to doubtful or wishful (the subjunctive mood: “If the weather were better, we would have hiked longer.”). In Canada, most people meet the subjunctive mood while studying French or other romance languages. But it does apply to English, too!

In the wish “If I were a richer person  . . . .” the verb (to be) is in the subjunctive mood and follows “if,” a preposition which is often used to express something imagined or wished-for. The subjunctive verb often is followed by conditional verbs, such as “could” or “would” (e.g. “If I were a rich person, I could give up the 9-5 rat race.”). So the next time you hear “. . . I were. . .” remember that it is not necessarily an error (for “I was”): the speaker may be using the subjunctive mood. Continue reading “Three More Tips on Grammar, Diction and Punctuation (the fourth blog in this series) . . . .”

10 More Tips to Improve your Grammar, Diction and Punctuation (the third blog in this series). . . . .

Welcome to the third blog in my series of tips to improve grammar, diction and punctuation in your business or academic writing. In the 10 tips that follow, I draw on the writing of “Grammar Girl” Mignon Fogarty (Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, Henry Holt: 2008) and on my own experience as a copywriter and editor.

(1)   Dangling Modifiers: modifiers are words that qualify the sense of a noun or verb, in a sentence: e.g. “good” and friendly” are modifiers in the phrase “a good and friendly house.” But when modifying words are not connected to any subject of the action or being, they are said to be “dangling.”

(e.g.) wrong:  “Hiking up the mountain, the birds chirped loudly.” According to this sentence, the birds are hiking up the mountain, because no other grammatical subject is present in the sentence.

corrected: “Hiking up the mountain, Jan heard the birds chirp loudly.”

(2)   Squinting (or Squinty) Modifiers: in this error, the modifier is put between two terms, both of which it could modify, so that the reader doesn’t know which one to choose.

(e.g.) wrong: “Children who laugh rarely are shy” (so are the children outgoing or do they seldom laugh?)

corrected: “Children who rarely laugh are shy.”

Continue reading “10 More Tips to Improve your Grammar, Diction and Punctuation (the third blog in this series). . . . .”