Jesse Richardson reports:
"As a business, there are two major types of email: commercial emails, which include marketing and company communications, and transactional emails. Transactional emails are based on specific actions (or inaction) taken by the customer, and are less of a 'bulk' type of email, and more of an official notice.
One of the most common transactional emails customers will experience in a subscription business is the shipping notice or tracking email. This is an automatic email, generated when the shipment for their box is initiated. (Think of any time you’ve ordered a product online. You likely received an email with a link to track your shipment.) When organizing shipping for your subscription, you’ll need to think about the notice you send...At the heart of a shipping notice (or transactional email of any type for that matter) is the correct information for the specific customer. It’s crucial to provide accurate information in the shipping notice, and by doing so, you can catch errors earlier and prevent questions from customers...The tracking email should be simple, and shouldn’t provide distractions with an overuse of color or graphics. It could be a plain-text email, meaning only the text and hyperlinks are used. At the same time, remember to stay personable. Say hello and show your personality, [but] just do it in a concise way...Lastly, if you’re including a call to action in the email, keep it simple. While this email isn’t meant to be a marketing-driven communication, you can try to inspire something unique – perhaps encouraging sharing, leaving a comment on a social network, or posting a picture. A quick way to direct them to your social networks can be to include graphics as links in the footer of the email...While you should keep the above in mind when crafting your shipping notice, don’t be afraid to test and adjust your style as needed. There may be unique ways to deliver this information without compromising clarity. As always, test, track, and confer with your team about how the changes have affected the customer experience."
Casey Kennedy reports:
“Although members that join your Facebook page are still called ‘fans,’ Facebook now refers to a Facebook Fan page as a business page or simply Facebook Page. Unlike a Facebook Profile and Wall, which is used to display a member's personal information, the Facebook Page is used to promote a business, group, cause or organization, while allowing the member to keep his personal information private for friends and family…Engage fans of your Facebook Page by asking them questions that relate to your products or services…You can then build a dialogue from the comments that members leave on the Page…Write reviews of the products that your business sells or offers. Comment how much you enjoy a new product line or give information about a specific product that just came in. Post pictures with your review to show what the product looks like or use models to show someone wearing or using it…Provide personal information as it relates to your business. Although your Facebook Page should remain on topic about your business, group, cause or organization, fans of your page still want to know a little about you. Update your fans on conferences or workshops you attend, mention you went to lunch with a client or that it was a busy [workweek], and you are looking forward to the weekend…Give fans information about upcoming changes in your industry. Use links to articles on the Internet that offer insight into your business. If you sell clothes, mention upcoming trends for the season or the latest fashion accessory. As a gym owner, provide a link to an exercise video about a new fitness craze or article about precautions athletes should take with summer heat.”
Pat Palmer reports:
“If you’ve recently found yourself burdened with stacks and stacks of extremely high medical bills, you are probably worrying about how you are going to pay them…[S]ometimes even the smallest procedures or the shortest hospital stays can cause a financial burden. However, you should never let the accumulation of medical debt, or even bankruptcy, become an option. By writing a medical bill dispute letter, you can begin to resolve some of the issues that make your medical bills seem so impossible. Savings will come when you establish the fact that nothing is impossible[,] not even disputing your medical bills…Learning how to craft the perfect medical bill dispute letter can begin to ease some of these financial troubles immediately. Without a doubt, medical bills can be confusing…Most often, patients pay their medical bills in full simply because they don’t feel there’s another option. However, even before writing your medical bill dispute letter, it’s important to understand that most bills contain many errors. Some of the most common mistakes found on medical bills include clerical errors, duplicate charges, billing for procedures that were never performed, and charges for medications you never received. Without carefully evaluating the detailed itemized statement you receive from your provider, you may pass over these mistakes, and end up paying far more money than you should have. If there is an item on your detailed itemized statement you feel you may not have received or was unnecessary to your diagnosis, request a copy of your medical records to verify if this test or procedure was performed and/or ordered. Simply call the medical record department of the hospital or provider and state that you want the medical records pertaining to the days you were under care. After analyzing your bills and deciding which charges you’d like to dispute, it’s now time to create your medical bill dispute letter. This written notice will be the first step in fighting these disputed charges. Be sure to write the letter as soon as possible and to provide essential details like your account information, details on the charges you’re disputing, and a statement that explains why they are being disputed. Provide any supporting documentation that may be available along with your letter. This medical bill dispute letter will help your hospital or doctor understand why you feel these charges aren’t your responsibility. Therefore, make sure to write your letter in a clear, detailed, thoughtful manner…After sending your medical bill dispute letter on its way, it’s important to remain patient…If you face resistance in the beginning, don’t give up. Countless Americans have successfully disputed their medical bills, often enlisting the help of a medical billing advocate. There’s simply no reason you can’t count yourself among them.”
Jason Cheung reports:
“A good product warning label is like wearing a safety belt in a car. It’s tedious to put on, [and] you won’t notice it while it is on, but you’ll be grateful you have it on if anything bad happens. The analogy might be a little strange because the warning label is for the consumer, not the producer. However, producers need these warning labels if they wish to avoid warning defect liability…Suppose you’re in the coffee brewing industry, like McDonalds or In-N-Out. What kind of warning can you put on a cup of hot coffee? Most cups would say something like ‘Caution: Handle with Care. I’m Hot.’ That’s pretty good, but given the lawsuits against the fast food industry, something more specific might be called for. Something like: "Don’t Expose To Bare Skin." A good warning should not only state the risk, but also [state] the behavior which could cause the injury. Be graphic about the behavior and the risks that consumers should avoid…A warning is not a warning if nobody sees or understands it. If the purpose of the warning is to avoid a liability suit, printing your warning on the last page at the bottom of your instruction manual in tiny font is counterproductive. The warning should be printed on the instruction manual, the packaging, and anywhere else the consumer might see it. The warning should also be in readable font. The warnings should also be in multiple languages. The warnings don’t have to be in every language conceivable, but it should be in the most common languages that your market speaks…Pictures might also be helpful, especially if you’re not familiar with the languages spoken in your market…A quick Google search will reveal that manufacturers today aren’t taking any risks when they write warnings. Some highlights include: ‘Do Not Put Any Person in This Washer’ or ‘Do Not Use Power Tool as a Dental Drill.’ These warnings aren’t bad, especially if your instruction manual or warning label has infinite space. If you don’t have infinite space or time[,] though, writing these kinds of extended warnings can be more expensive than helpful. Courts make certain assumptions when evaluating whether a warning was necessary or adequate. The most useful assumption is that the consumer will use the product for its intended purpose. If it is obvious that a steak knife was made for cutting rather than juggling, then the creator of the steak knife can probably skip the warning about juggling…Warnings will protect against certain types of lawsuits. A well-written warning will deflect warning defect suits and certain types of product liability suits. Measuring the success of a warning in preventing lawsuits can be a tricky task, since one would be measuring events which shouldn’t be happening. Moreover, plaintiffs can still bring suit even if the product is completely covered in warnings. The value of the warning will come when a judge strikes a warning defect claim from a product liability suit…Warning label defects can create serious risks to consumers and users of a product. You may wish to hire a qualified personal injury attorney if you need assistance with a warning defect products liability claim. Your lawyer will be able to guide you through the legal process to ensure that your rights are being represented.”
Kara Page reports:
“As manager or owner of a business, employees may turn to you for testimonials and references for new jobs or promotion opportunities. Although a testimonial is typically short, the amount of time it takes to craft a strong one can be considerable; in fact, employees may come to you with a testimonial drafted as a template for you to use. However, if you must write a testimonial, all you need to know is who the testimonial is about and who will be considering it…Draft a professional business letter, including a header with your contact information, a side address with the recipient's name, title and contact information[,] and an opening salutation that greets the recipient formally by name…For your employee, the most valuable part of your testimonial is not what you say but the fact that it comes from you and is backed by your professionalism. A handwritten or unprofessional appearance could tarnish the effect of your testimonial…Write an opening sentence and state the employee's name, [his] position and his dates of employment with [you] thus far. If appropriate, include his salary…Write a brief middle paragraph that expands upon your employee's most important duties and his performance. Include any special recognition your employee has received. Consider the purpose of the testimonial; if the employee is interested in a higher-level position, you may want to highlight his most impressive responsibilities and examples of leadership, while if he is changing careers, it would be more useful [to] mention some of his more transferable skills…Write a closing sentence that states your positive feelings regarding the employee and that you recommend him for the position he is interested in. If applicable, mention that the recipient may contact you for further information regarding the employee…Before writing the testimonial, answer a few questions about the employee to help generate ideas on what to include. Consider your perception of that employee when he was hired, how that perception may have changed and what you feel his biggest asset to the company is.”
Susan Gunelius reports:
"No one will want to return to your blog if your content is updated sporadically or has nothing original to say. Keep your blog's content fresh and establish a tone for your blog, then stick to it. Readers want to feel connected to you. Blogging is a two-way conversation, so inject some personality into your content, provide valuable and meaningful content to your readers and develop a conversation with your readers...Make sure your subscription link is positioned in a highly visible location on every page in your blog. The top of the page is a great place for your subscription icon. You may also want to put a subscription link between your blog posts...It's not too aggressive to ask readers to subscribe. Sometimes a gentle reminder is all it takes to encourage someone to subscribe to your blog. Consider including a request at the end of your best blog posts saying, 'If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my feed?' Of course, include a link to your feed subscription page to make it as easy as possible for your readers to act on your reminder...A great way to increase the number of subscribers to your blog is to offer subscribers something extra such as a free gift or additional information that could be helpful to them...The key is to offer a freebie that is meaningful and useful to your readers and provides added value to their experiences on your blog...Once your blog starts to generate some decent traffic and subscribers, you should promote that success to your readers. For example, if your blog has over 100 subscribers, show that figure on your blog...Whatever number seems significant to you, once you reach that number of subscribers, start to advertise your popularity by displaying it on your blog."
Linda Ray reports:
“Unlike a formal presentation or a report that includes detailed research and supporting data, a short report typically is used to bring a general manger up to date in a clear and concise manner. Your general manager…will appreciate your ability to communicate succinctly in a short report…Write yourself an outline first to solidify your thoughts and arrange ideas. Jot down the main objective of the report…in order to avoid lengthy introductions and wordy sentences…Start with an opening paragraph to introduce the subject of the report and remind your manager that you're responding to a request for an update or regular review…List the highlights of your findings and conclusions. Use bullet points to break out each separate thought and make the report easier to digest. Alternatively, summarize your findings in a few clear paragraphs where you’ve condensed the highlights and put them into sentences…Place supplementary and supporting data in addendums that are attached to the report instead of including them in the body of the report…Short reports primarily are used for internal communications only and can include company lingo and abbreviations that don’t require extensive explanations. They can be formal or informal…Ask your general manager or a peer who also submits short reports to the general manager what is considered a short report in your company. Your general manager may expect you to deliver the gist of a project in one page, while other GMs are accustomed to short reports that are closer to 10 pages long and include a one-page executive summary.”
C.S. Lakin reports:
“Writers often think about tightening their writing. Just what does that mean? And how is it done? Is there a way that writers can tighten up their writing without losing their voice or compromising their writing style?...The goal should be to write in a concise fashion so that our meaning is clearly understood. It’s not all that tricky to do. And don’t worry—this can be done without adversely cramping a writer’s style. That’s not to say these tips are a cure-all for major flaws in a story, article, or book. But...here are some simple things writers can do to tighten sentences, shed unwanted words, and tone and shape the whole ‘body’ of work...Make a list of your weasel words. Those are the words you throw in out of habit. Often they are pesky adverbs like very and just…Grab a random page of your document and see if you can eliminate at least one or two words from every sentence…If the word doesn’t add importance to a sentence, it should go. Then attack the rest of your novel…Whether referring to general passive…or present progressive passive…most of the time a sentence will be stronger if the passive voice is avoided. An easy way to seek and destroy unwanted passive construction is do a ‘Find’ for ing, was, is, it was, and there was, to name a few…Don’t use two words when one will do. Don’t use four when three will do. If two adjectives are similar, pick the best one and toss the other…If you are writing fiction or narrative nonfiction, you may have dialog in your piece. Be aware that if the reader knows who is speaking, you don’t need to tell them over and over—especially in a scene with only two characters. And remove all those flowery verbs that stick out, such as quizzed, extrapolated, exclaimed, and interjected. Just use said and asked, and maybe an occasional replied or answered. Really. Less is more…We tend to repeat words, phrases, or ideas in the same paragraph. Sometimes that’s a good thing to do, to drive home a point, perhaps in summary at the end of a section or subheading. But writers often try to say the same thing in a different way, and instead of adding new material they are essentially rehashing what they’ve already said. One great way to catch those repetitive words is to hear your piece read aloud using [a software] program like Natural Reader…Take a look at all the places you have backstory and boil down just a few lines of the most important information you feel the reader must know to ‘get’ the story. Then see if you can have a character either think or say these things instead of going into lengthy narrative. Look for any passage that feels like author intrusion or an info dump and find another way to impart the information. If you’re the kind of writer that needs to ‘add weight’ to your skimpy book, you have a different challenge, and the problem won’t be solved by ignoring all the above tips. Remember, it’s the unwanted fat you want to eliminate. Be sure what you add to a skimpy novel is muscle, not fat. And for the rest of us who overwrite, be reassured that by implementing these easy tips, you can help trim those unwanted ‘pounds’ from your pages and tighten up your writing.”
Bert Markgraf reports:
“Project milestones measure progress and let you determine how well you are meeting your schedule. When your project continues to be on schedule, you can finish it on time and it is more likely to be on budget…Writing such milestones into your project plan in an effective way lets you evaluate project status and take corrective action when necessary…For your milestones, you have to choose events that take place on a specific date and that clearly mark the completion of a particular activity. Milestones are events that have zero duration and therefore occur on a single day. For example, closing the main breaker to connect the electrical system of a new building to the grid is a milestone showing the electrical installation is complete…Milestones are easily observable. When you write your milestones into your project plan, you have to choose events that don't use resources for verification of the milestone. You can check, look up or verify a milestone, but it can't require an evaluation or calculation. A test procedure can't be a milestone, but if the procedure gives a result, such as a product that survives the test, the result can be a milestone…The dates you attach to your milestones have to be realistic…When you don't reach a milestone on time, you have to be able to determine why your reasonable assumptions about the schedule turned out to be wrong and what to do to fix the problem…The most effective milestones are simple events that everyone connected to the project can see. When a client is checking on the situation of the project, clear milestones make it easy to demonstrate how you are progressing. When a team is working toward completion of critical activities, clear milestones serve to motivate them to meet their targets…For milestones that give you clear information about the status of the whole project, those that form a sequence are the most effective. Choose them so that, when one is finished, you can go on to the next one. If they are not sequential, one at the end of the project may depend on one near the beginning, with other milestones in between. Choosing each one for an activity or group of activities that finish at about the same time lets you place the milestones progressively to mirror the work completed on the project.”
Brian Wasko reports:
"Good writers...develop a distinct voice. If you have a favorite writer, you may be able to recognize his or her writing just by hearing it read. The rhythm of his sentences. The peculiarities of her vocabulary. The formality or casualness of his tone...I believe all of us have a style. We all have the potential to craft words that reflect something special about who we are. The question is – how do you find it? My advice is simple: [D]on’t look for it. Don’t try for style. Just let it happen. A writing style isn’t something to squeeze out of yourself like the last brushful of toothpaste. It’s something that comes on its own as you devote yourself to solid writing. Don’t think about writing with style. Think about writing with clarity and conciseness, with sound mechanics and careful word selection...Write to please yourself. Develop an ear for words and the music they make. You don’t even need to explain why you like a sentence better one way than another. It ought to sound right to you. Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advice or seek input from others – especially your writing coach. The point is to avoid thinking about what your reader might expect or want or like. Write the way you like – this is the quickest way to begin developing your own personal style. Your writing then becomes a reflection of you – and that’s what style essentially is. Read aloud what you write and ask yourself: 'Does this sound like me?' Don’t be afraid to take some risks. Don’t settle for the cliché when you can come up with something new. Allow the quirkiness of your thinking and the distinctness of your personality to make an appearance in your writing. But remember, the style that will emerge may not show up for some time. You can’t rush style. And even when you begin developing a sense of style, you’ll soon learn that your style will change over time. Your writing style will change as you mature and grow. Words will start to come more easily...You’ll find yourself writing more comfortably. Your words will sound like you – only better because you’ve taken the time to craft them carefully. If you’ve been writing for a while, you may have already noticed a recognizable voice, an identifiable cadence, an unmistakable you-ishness to your writing. If that’s the case, congratulations. You’ve begun developing your own style."
Writing and editing can be pretty rigorous processes if you want to do them well, but that's what this page is here for. Check out the latest tips here.