Dawn Mayo reports:
"Cards are a wonderful way to send a message to a friend, loved one or colleague. However, just because you’re sending friendly thank[-]yous or congratulations cards by hand doesn’t mean they should be sloppy. If you’re not used to writing a lot by hand, it can be kind of hard to write in a straight line. Greeting cards don’t have guidelines, so your writing might start to slant up or down, which does not look very good...To keep your writing even, you’ll want to make a few guidelines on your paper. Using a ruler and a pencil, carefully rule lines onto your card. The size will vary depending on how much you plan to write. Make sure you press softly on the pencil so the lines can easily be erased, as well. Once your guidelines are down, write out your message with a pen. When your message is complete, set it aside for a few minutes so the ink can fully dry before running an eraser across the whole card. This will erase the guidelines and leave you with a straight, neat note...Spelling mistakes in your writing not only jar the reader out of your story, but also look unprofessional. Avoid making these errors by writing a draft of your message on a scrap piece of paper. Spell check any words you’re unsure about for this practice writing. Once you’re sure everything is accurate, copy the message onto your greeting card...Not using the proper writing tools can make your work messy. To keep your writing clean, use a good pen. If you have a writing tool that sometimes spits out globs of ink or cuts out while you’re writing, you should probably use a more reliable pen. Also, unless you’re writing to a close friend, stick to traditional ink colors like blue or black...You’d be surprised how much posture can [affect] your handwriting. It’s not like working on a computer, where you can slouch all you want and the letters come out clean. When you’re writing by hand, everything, from the way you hold your pen to the way you sit in the chair can impact how your writing turns out. To ensure you create neat words every time, set up a little writing station whenever you sit down to send letters or cards. This can...be done at a desk or you could even use a TV tray if you wanted to work in the living room. Either way, make sure you’re sitting up straight...Rushed writing creates sloppy, inconsistent letter forms. Put some effort into your note by slowing down and taking the time to write a neat letter. Your readers will appreciate the clear letter forms that are easy to read."
Dennis Palumbo reports:
"[O]ften writers think the most important aspect of a good mystery is the ingenuity of the crime, the unraveling of the clues. Which is why many writers are scared to death of even trying to write a mystery or thriller. Fear no more. Yes, viewers of mysteries and thrillers like tightly-plotted narratives, clever red herrings, and a certain element of surprise. And you should always strive to weave as many of these aspects into your whodunit or crime story as possible. But these factors are not what makes a mystery - any mystery - memorable...[W]hat is a mystery? In simplest terms, it's a story about the disruption of the social order. A crime against society is committed: [A] man is murdered, a bank is robbed, whatever. We, the viewer, want to know two things: who did it, and why. At least that's what we think we want. What do we really want? We want order restored. We want the violator of the social compact - the killer, the thief, the blackmailer - caught, so that things in our world are set right once more. And who do we want to do this? Our surrogate, the smarter, wittier, and more doggedly determined version of ourselves: the detective hero. Whether a street wise cop like Popeye Doyle in the French Connection, a sloppy homicide detective like TV's Columbo, or a tea-drinking, sweater-knitting old lady like Miss Marple, we want this one thing from our mystery protagonist above all others: [W]e want order restored...[H]ow do the characters interact? What do they want? For example, in most mysteries, whether a suspect is guilty of the crime or not, he or she invariably has a secret. A clandestine relationship, a trauma from the past that haunts them still, perhaps even a connection with the killer (or the victim) that helps complete an entire mosaic of possible motives, entanglements[,] and intrigue. Henry James famously said: 'Plot is characters under stress.' Well, nothing ramps up the stress level of a group of characters like the murder of one among them. A further 'turn of the screw' results when the murder comes under investigation by an outside agent - the hero or heroine, the cop or private eye - determined to ferret out the truth. How does that apply to the mystery you're trying to write? A reasonable question. Remember what it felt like when some kid broke a window at school and the principal gathered you and all your classmates together? Remember the mounting tension as the principal went down the line, interrogating each of you, sometimes even feigning humor or sympathy, but always with the relentless, eagle-eyed determination of a predator searching for his prey? Well, do the characters in your mystery or crime story feel that way? How do they show it, to the camera, to each other, and to the detective? Or, perhaps more importantly, how do they attempt to conceal it? In most memorable mysteries, or in the best straight-ahead thrillers, this context of mutual suspicion and misdirection of motives is pivotal. It's what keeps the suspense mounting for the viewer. Moreover, it's the crucial element that keeps the laying-in of necessary clues from seeming like a mere litany of exposition...All renowned mysteries from Laura to Twin Peaks to Witness for the Prosecution take place in a specific arena of life. The design industry, the rainy Pacific Northwest, the be-wigged world of British courtrooms. Whatever. If you consider a film like All the President's Men a mystery...since it meets all the criteria, then the fascinating world of Washington politics is the backdrop. Recall, too, how the key to success for Columbo was the interaction of our rumpled hero with the nuances of the various worlds into which he ventured, from that of classical music to computer science, from Hollywood studios to military schools. His comfortable, familiar character was our vehicle of entry into the specifics of each of these very particular ways of life. But what does all the above have to do with you, and the mystery you're writing? Let's see if we can break it down. First, let's look at your protagonist. And here's where many new mystery writers get discouraged, and for a very understandable reason. When it comes to the hero - whether hard-boiled private eye or spinster librarian, cop-turned-lawyer or criminal-turned-cop - they've all been done. How do you make your sleuth unique? For me, there's only one answer: [A]sk yourself, what makes you unique?...This concept operates as well for TV and film as for prose. Many writers of popular crime shows and recent thriller movies are patients in my private practice, and I've witnessed [firsthand] how their own issues, prejudices[,] and concerns are woven into their on-screen characters...The closer the hero or heroine of your mystery story is to you, the more vivid and engaging he or she will be to the viewer...Next, let's look at the world of your mystery story. What is the world you inhabit? Suburban soccer mom or single father? Former football coach, magazine editor, or Rhodes scholar? Travel agent, computer specialist, or kindergarten teacher? After all, you know the details of your particular world so clearly. You know the ins and outs. It's those details that create the backdrop for the crime, that make possible the intrigue, the collision of misleading, [backstabbing], or too-good-to-be-true characters...Why is the background so important? Aside from being crucial to our sense of the reality of the story, and presenting us with a view of a world with which we may be unfamiliar (or that we think we know, but in fact really don't), a particular arena provides valuable help to the writer when it comes to building narrative and planting clues. How? To put it simply, the best clues in a classic mystery involve misdirection. A clue usually seems to point in one direction, when actually, looked at from a different angle, it reveals something else. A typical example is the clue that appears to confirm a certain character's guilt, when in fact it's been planted to frame that person. For the writer, trying to develop the narrative and plant significant clues along the way, it's much easier...if the clues emerge from the world of the story...[O]ne of the smartest things a crime writer can do is develop the clues and red herrings out of the world in which the story is set. Most used car salesmen don't know where to get their hands on lethal yet undetectable poisons. They do know how to cut the brake lines of a car. (Or blackmail a mechanic to do it for them.)...Most new writers of mysteries seem to think the plot has to be filled with clues. It doesn't. One or two gems - the misleading planted evidence, the comment a suspect makes that belies his alibi - are all you need to put the villain away. Or all your hero or heroine needs. Remember, too, that many clues are just as likely to indicate something that's missing as they are to reveal something that's present: the unfound murder weapon, the missing wedding ring on the victim's finger...The three things to keep in mind when writing mysteries are: 1) establishing the unique character of the protagonist, 2) making narrative use of the world in which the story takes place, and 3) planting clues (remember, only a few) that derive from the particular aspects of that world. One final hint, to spark your creativity when thinking about writing a mystery: [I]s there a little-known fact, an oddity of history or natural science, that you were taught or stumbled upon and has always intrigued you?...What's in your background that you can use? What's filed away in that mental Rolodex in your head that might serve as the germ of an idea for a mystery? Maybe your grandfather was the first guy in his town to own a car. Or the guy who bought the last Edsel. Maybe your mother tells the story of getting hit on by some dorky guy at a bar who went on to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Everybody has some story, some incident, unique to them and them alone. All a writer has to do is 'twist' that story a little bit - the 'what-if' that inspires all storytelling - and a mystery emerges. Because, in the end, that's where all the best stories come from. Life itself. The greatest mystery of all."
C.S. Lakin reports:
"Motifs? Most writers don’t really know what they are, but they can make the difference between an okay book and a terrific one...Not many writers consciously plan out motifs to use in their novel, but sometimes they come naturally into the story. Motifs are symbolic elements packed with inference, but they don’t have to appear in your story as an actual item. Motifs can be a word or phrase, a concept, an image—just about anything that can be repeated with significance and symbolism. The weather can be a motif, for example, if each time something terrible is about to happen, 'lightning' strikes. Using motifs in writing fiction is one of the most powerful and evocative ways of getting across your themes in your novel. Few authors use them, and few use them well...Two definitions of motif in Merriam-Webster’s give a good feel for what a motif is: 'a dominant idea or central theme; a single or repeated design or color.' Think about a motif as a splash of color that you are adding to your story palette—a very noticeable, specific color that appears from time to time and that 'blends in' beautifully with the overall picture you are painting...Motifs can be an object, an idea, a word or phrase, a bit of speech—and you can combine these in your novel to create richness...The best use of a motif is in your title, and a great title will tie in to your book’s theme, often as both a motif and a double meaning...I hope you can see here the motifs at work and how, throughout a novel, these can surface to bring cohesion to a story. You can use an object, like a balloon for example, to symbolize important qualities. A balloon could represent freedom, the need for release. A slow-growing tree could represent faithfulness, steadfastness through all seasons, something a character can be viewing out her window at different times in her life...[A]s you plot out your novel, or tackle your rewrite, think of two or three motifs you can weave in, then go back through your book and place them strategically. If you can somehow use the motif in your title, even better. And if you can think of motifs that parallel and/or enhance your overall theme, you will have a book that will be unforgettable. Pay attention as you read great novels to see if you can spot the motifs the author has used. You will be surprised how you will start seeing them if you pay attention and look for them. May these thoughts spark some ideas in your head and get you running to your pages!"
Megan Willett reports:
"In many ways, a signature is like a fingerprint: Each one is a completely unique identifier.
But if your signature is more Jacob Lew than John Hancock, don't fear -- it's possible to improve your autograph in a few quick steps...The first step is deciding what kind of style you want. Angular and jagged? Loopy and old-school? Search around online for calligraphy, fonts, and different [typefaces] that appeal to you. Keep track of your favorites and print out their letter samples...Now that you have a font you like, focus on the first letter of both your first and [your] last [name] to practice...Once you have the capital letters down, the rest of your signature can be more fluid and abstract...Practice is the key to improving your handwriting in general...but signing your new signature over and over again is the easiest and fastest way to break the habit of your old signature. Do it in meetings, while signing checks, at the grocery store, [or] even on a blank notepad while you’re watching TV at home. The goal is to get your hand as used to the new rhythm and style as possible. Eventually, it will become second-nature."
Gellan Watt reports:
"There are many ways to write a good brief. From company to company, each use a different format or style. The most important thing to remember is to consider each of the following questions. There are no rules that ensure a great brief, but there are some very important principles...What is the objective and role of this communication? Reflect on this for a moment. [It's] the most essential point of any brief – what is the required outcome? Try to convey clearly what you want to achieve. Consider the following: What do we want people to do differently? What are people doing now? What do competitive communications look like, [and] how do we avoid looking like them?...It is vital to consider who the target customer is. Where can they be found and how can they be reached?...Demographics are important, especially for media selection, but more importantly[,] you need to identify the attitudes and aspirations of our target audience...If you understand your target audience, you can start to understand the role your product or brand plays in addressing their emotional and functional needs. This can be the start of a brand promise, with which we can define the entire product [and/or] brand experience. What is the proposition? With each campaign, there is, or should be, a single-minded thought that each communication will bring to life in a compelling way...It is the creative’s job to give the consumer reasons to believe in a product or brand to trust the campaign. Support should be as well[-]planned and thought-through as any creative execution. What is the unique personality of the brand? You use a product, but you have a relationship with a brand...Be as accurate a[s] possible – the mood and tone of the creative will be based on this description...A brief is not an inconvenience – it is an opportunity to do great work, build the brand and ultimately [build] the business. Commit to your brief...The target audience for your brief is...the creative team. It’s not always sales charts, or financial plans that motivate them (although it will some). Creatives must create. They live to devise campaigns that tug on the [heartstrings] as well as the wallet. Inspire them...Don’t always rely on the paper brief. The written work is a great way of collecting all of your notes and all of your points, but a face-to-face brief is a great way of adding to it...Be focused. A great example is to throw six tennis balls to someone in one go. They [won't] catch them all. Throw them one, and they’ll probably make an excellent catch. This thinking should run through the whole brief – focus your goals...Creatives should have access to whatever information...they need, but the ‘essence’ of the argument should be expressed in as few words as possible...[C]reatives don’t work to a brief. Creatives work from a brief. The brief is a starting point, a launch pad to something new, exciting and successful. Be open-minded, and courageous. Most of all[,] invest time in your brief, and encourage your creative team."
David Ingram reports:
"Business plans describe a company's mission, operations, financial plan, marketing strategy and management qualifications. Writing a business plan for a salon walks you...through the steps necessary to open a business in the hair and nail care industry...Write a summary of your company, [its] mission and [its] operational philosophies. Include your company name, address and other contact information, as well as your business structure; sole proprietorship, LLC., etc. Briefly state the purpose of your organization and describe your customer service philosophy...Write descriptions of your products and services. Describe how the customer experience in your store will differ from your competitors' services. Discuss line-queuing systems and goals for minimizing customer wait-times. Discuss whether you will cater to the upscale end of the market by taking reservations for personalized services, or the budget end of the market that serves walk-ins at the lowest price possible, or even the segment in between. Discuss whether you will include hairstyle consultation services, nail grooming services or haircare products...Create a financial summary section, and include projected financial statements spanning at least three years. Include all expected startup expenses and list potential sources of initial funding. Use your experience and your best [judgment] when creating forward-looking financial statements. Use your marketing goals to gain a perspective on how many customers you will serve and how quickly your customer base will grow, then base your revenue and direct cost estimates on these figures...Create a marketing plan and an initial marketing budget. Describe how you will publicize the new salon using advertising and promotions. Discuss any incentive programs you plan to offer to frequent customers. Family-oriented salons may do well to use local mass-market media...to advertise their services. Upscale or niche salons' ads will be more effective in specialty publications. Keep in mind that word-of-mouth advertising can make or break salons serving this segment...Include a succinct, professional biography highlighting your experience and qualifications. Incorporate professional bios of any co-founders or investors with a management stake in the company as well...Write an executive summary and use it as the first section...Use this one- to two-page summary to provide an overview of your business plan, quickly highlighting important features of each succeeding section."
Roger C. Parker reports:
"If you've written a book, you can easily and inexpensively use e-mail and your [website] to promote it...Books tend to get 'lost' when grafted onto existing [websites]. For best results, create a [website] specifically intended to promote and support your book. This permits you to focus all of the site's resources on promoting your book...Choose a [website] address based on your book's title, rather than your name. If you have done a good job of choosing your title, your title will be easier to remember than your name. You can easily cross-link your existing [website] to your book's [highly focused website]...One of the best ways to promote your book is to allow readers to download a table of contents plus one or more sample chapters from your [website]...To the extent that your sample chapter communicates competence and easy reading style, readers will be motivated to buy your book. Remember that uncertainty is the biggest obstacle you must overcome when making a sale to a stranger. In a bookstore, prospective buyers can thumb through your book. Online, readers can't do that...Use a desktop publishing software program to format your sample chapters for easy reading. Use Adobe Acrobat to create PDF files that will be sent to readers as e-mail attachments...[I]nclude as many reasons as possible for readers to visit your [website]. Success requires more than simply listing your [website] address in your biography or on the last page of the book. Give readers valid reasons to visit your site. Offer downloadable versions of reader engagement tools like checklists and worksheets. Promise updated content and new information...If your book is in black and white, but includes photographs or charts, post color versions of the visuals on your [website]. Don't view your [website] strictly as a promotional tool. Instead, view it as a 'service' or resource intended to help readers make the most of your book...Use your [website] to create an interactive relationship with your readers. Solicit their comments and questions. Offer a prize for the best question of the month and answer the question on your [website's homepage]. Respond to reader e-mail as quickly as possible. If their comments are critical, create a dialog and try to understand the criticism from your reader's point of view...Whenever a reader writes a particularly favorable comment, immediately ask them for permission to use the comment with either their name, or their initials and their city. Many readers will welcome the opportunity to share their enthusiasm for your book with others. Most people like seeing their words and their names in print...Create a 'press room' where members of the media can download files containing scanned images of you as well as the front cover of your book. Scanned images which can be immediately downloaded make your book more attractive to reviewers and other writers. Include a 'backgrounder' describing you and your firm's background as well as your personal side. Include information that emphasizes the timeliness of your book and its importance to your readers. Provide answers to frequently asked questions...E-mail and your [website] permit you to offer readers personalized assistance and opportunities for [ongoing] relationships. These relationships represent win-win situations for both of you. Readers get access to your knowledge and expertise, while you get to develop additional sources of profit...Premium Content is limited-distribution, high-octane information that you send readers in exchange for providing their e-mail address and permission to contact them again in the future. Examples of premium content include articles that focus on particular problems that have been brought to your attention since your book appeared or in-depth treatment of topics too specialized to be included in your book. Premium content can also consist of your reflections on your book in the light of current economic and social trends...You can do your readers a favor, as well as maintain your awareness and pre-sell your next book, by publishing an e-mail newsletter. Make your e-mail newsletter as genuinely helpful as possible...[O]ffer short nuggets of information that appear on a regular basis. Readers are busy and will respond favorably to concise, easily digested information. When soliciting reader e-mail addresses, always include your privacy statement, which should state that you will never rent, sell or share your readers' e-mail addresses. And make sure you live up to your promise!...Give your e-mail recipients a reason to visit your book's [website]. Don't just list its address, but provide an incentive for them to visit. Arouse their curiosity or offer them a valuable information premium they can download when they visit. This is especially true when you participate in online discussion groups or contribute a comment to an article that invites reader response."
Susan Sundwall reports:
"Trends come and go with the speed of light, and you really can't be all over the map when it comes to writing about them. You have to select an area of interest, employ laser-like focus, and stick with it until it's a fait accompli. If you're thinking about all things green as related to global warming, for instance, make it your passion to find out everything you can about how and why 'going green' is so in vogue. For example, develop an eye for picking out the word 'green' in all the publications you see in the [grocery store] magazine rack...Note the kinds of 'green' that are being written about. Now, what hasn't been written about? That's where you come in. When friends, family or co-workers talk about going green, ask them what that means to them. Maybe it's a plan to buy a hybrid car the next time around or organizing a neighborhood clean-up-the-roads project. Write to those interests and concerns. If you can talk to a real fanatic, so much the better; he or she may have access to an expert who will give you an interview. Search online for green technologies, green yard care, green education, etc. Pick a topic that's of particular interest to you and run with it. Look at current advertising for automobiles, paper products, children's toys and the like. Note words and phrases that are being used in an attempt to appeal to the environmentalist in all of us. Use variations on those themes in your own work...[T]he same guidelines can be applied to any subject. As soon as you have enough information about your chosen trend, don't dither. Get your notes in order and do a first draft. Make a target market list. If you need to query an editor, do it. If not, work on your draft until it's ready to go, and send it off. Time is of the essence when it comes to following and writing about trends. A self-imposed sense of urgency will go a long way in making you successful here. Being ahead of the curve is tricky, but once you sharpen your skills the opportunities are limitless...Trends...exist under a wide umbrella of what we might consider 'evergreen' categories but with an inherent sense of being in the moment. Here are three subject areas that aren't going away any time soon...Are you a fashion maven? Can you spot a coming fashion trend a mile away? Get out your notepad and find out where it's coming from, who's wearing it and where the average Jill can buy it. Maybe the whole palette of lipstick and eye shadow is trending to mauve next spring. Find out. If you can snag a few photos or a word or two from a celebrity or popular makeup stylist -- go for it. It all helps to sell the piece...Science and technology magazines need good articles that will keep their readers enlightened, informed and current. Many of these publications offer free subscriptions to business owners who are also potential customers...Perhaps you have a friend or acquaintance who'll lend you a copy or two of the publications monitoring your area of interest. Or go online and request a sample copy. Study the tone, layout and subject matter and get that first draft going...Think about the last time you saw a celebrity expound on the virtues of the acai berry or pomegranate juice. Trends are set quickly with celebrity endorsements, so keep tabs on them. Everybody eats and there are myriad opportunities for writers to get out there and report to the world about foods on the edge. Let your food snoop take the reins, scoping out things like the end caps in the aisle of your favorite supermarket or gourmet shop. That's where new products often appear first. Talk to the store manager to see which items are catching on with the public. Watch television food programs or infomercials that tout new ways to prepare avocado, sandwiches, pasta, you name it. Other subject areas include politics (there's always an election somewhere), parenting, spirituality, home decor and pets, to name just a few!...You're not going to be alone when it comes to writing to trends. There's a ton of competition out there, so you'll need a unique slant. Go back to the grocery store for a minute. Ask a cashier or some shoppers about the 'green bags' used for carry-home. They could be interested in knowing what the bags are made of, how long they last, how many variations there are and the weight they can handle. Follow it up [with] some demographics on what populations are using them and add a trick or two on how to remember to bring them to the store on shopping day. Write your article using short blocks of information and add a picture or two of the various kinds of bags. You'll have a killer article that any number of magazines will be interested in. Now think about the energy category or fashion or food. Apply the same thinking. Do wind turbines still kill birds? Will the next American Idol winner be sporting pink sneakers with purple shoelaces; will tofu put your local cattle rancher out of business soon? Eager readers want to know. Your slant is your sale...Editors love phrases like 'new study shows,' 'learn the secret,' 'how to boost' and words like 'surprise' and 'amaze.' Use them whenever you can to show that the article you're selling is current, interesting and well[-]researched. Do your homework...and be ahead of other contenders in winning a spot in those choice and lucrative publications you've dreamed of conquering."
Tim Nichols reports:
"Creating good SEO content is something of an unsung skill. Perhaps that's because it's a relatively new writing discipline. There's a constant call for high-quality SEO content on the Web and an ever-growing demand for accomplished writers who understand how to create effective optimized copy. In short, consistently publishing quality content that is SEO-aware in the form of case studies, blogs, etc. will help generate a growing amount of incoming organic traffic to your website...We've all seen advertisements that claim that writing SEO content requires no experience, and most of us have had the misfortune to come across copy written by people who believe that. The results are risible at best. And even if the amateurish blog or substandard article does manage to pull traffic to the site, visitors' interest won't be held for long if the content is poorly written or inaccurate. This happens all the time, and it's bad news for the companies who have bought second-rate content and deservedly bad news for the companies who employ so-called writers to provide it. Neither will be in business for long. Internet users are discerning people who are able to make decisions quickly and they'll spot shoddy work instantly. Poor-quality articles stick out like the proverbial sore thumb and drive away more customers than they could ever generate. The fact that a great deal of shoddy written work is circulating the net is something that should be viewed positively by those of you who are proficient writers. It means that more and more genuine and lucrative opportunities for you to create and sell content are opening up all the time. Similarly, companies wanting to grow their website organically by way of publishing quality content will be in a strong position. One of the problems that writers of SEO content frequently cite is making an article read with a natural flow while still regularly including the relevant keywords in the text. In some cases it's fairly easy to feature a keyword or several of them in a manner that makes for ease of reading. A single repeated keyword might slip virtually unnoticed into the body of the text without seeming too obtrusive. However, it's very often keyword strings that give SEO writers the biggest headaches. For example, if a writer were given a keyword string like ‘professional ad copy writing services,’ the text would pretty quickly read in a labored way if that exact string kept being used over and over. The best way around this is to use the string in its entirety where appropriate and then adapt the string to avoid the work seeming repetitive. This is where the canny SEO writer gets creative...Next, it is useful to remind yourself that you can switch the order of the words. Again, the search engine won't discriminate with regards to sequence, so it will pick them up. The benefits of moving the words around are more to do with style. And stylish SEO content is often thought to be thin on the ground, so the writer who can produce stylish SEO content will have the advantage in the marketplace...There is an ongoing debate about the importance of keyword density. And it looks as if there will continue to be a division in the camps over this particular issue. The main thing to remember, as an SEO writer, is that companies like to see content that is fully garnished with their definitive words...It probably goes without saying, but it may as well be said anyway, that finding how many times a given word appears in a text is easily achieved by using the Find facility in the Edit tools in your word processing program. When doing this, make sure the Match case option is unchecked and search for Whole words only. If you really can't face going about things in such a seemingly archaic way, then there is a plethora of keyword calculating tools available on the net. Some are supremely complex...After pondering the above, you might be wondering what sort of keyword density is required in a good piece of SEO content writing. Of course the perfect repost to this is, how long is a piece of string? Or even, how long is the perfect keyword string? It's impossible to say, really. And each piece you write will be different. As a provider of a professional service you are obliged to deliver what your client requests. And you'll probably be told many times over that 'content is king.' As a writer you will no doubt also wish to preserve your integrity by delivering quality pieces. And finally, perhaps it's time to change the adage 'Content Is King' to 'Quality Content Is King.'"
Megan Broussard reports:
"As a career coach, I can tell you that there are plenty of things that make cover letters stand out in a bad way. But how do you move past mediocre and get it to catch the employer's eye in a good way? That’s the burning question, when one sheet of paper stands in the way of your potential employer seeing your masterpiece of a resume...[T]o avoid your resume landing in the circular file and to achieve your goal of getting an interview, follow these five guidelines—and the easiest-to-remember acronym ever: 'C-O-V-E-R.'...Call out leadership positions, relevant awards, and advanced skill sets right at the beginning. This is the easiest way to catch someone’s eye as soon as he or she starts reading...Not sure which facets of your experience to include? Start with the points listed specifically in the job description. By proving you meet an employer’s top requirements, you’ll keep her attention to read on...Offer stats to illustrate your impact on companies or associations you’ve worked for in the past. Employers love to see numbers—it shows them that you speak their language and that you understand what they’re looking for in an employee: results.
Show them that you’ve made your mark in your past positions and didn’t just follow your predecessor’s checklist...Earned your division more money than the person before you? Share that monetary difference. Reeled in more vendors than your peers did to participate in a fundraiser? Show that outstanding work with something no one can argue with—math...Verify the appropriate contact name to use in the greeting of the cover letter...If you can’t find it online, do some digging. Call the company and ask who the HR representative or the hiring manager is for the position. You should never have a general greeting like 'To whom it may concern' or 'Dear [Insert Company Name].' You want it to be as personalized as possible so that the employer sees that you’re resourceful and that you’re OK with doing your homework...Exemplify your strengths. Avoid, at all costs, describing yourself as a 'team player' or a 'people-person.'...Instead, show off your skills with descriptive statements like 'I’m an expert communicator with experience bringing together diverse departments to develop a cohesive program.' It’s longer—but it’s also stronger. Then follow that point with an instance in which you displayed this skill...Remember, too, that your cover letter itself should serve as an example of your skills. Meaning, if you’re an aspiring journalist, you’d better check that you used AP style correctly throughout your cover letter. If you’re applying for a graphic design position, then your cover letter should be a visual masterpiece...Refrain from regurgitating all of the same information already detailed in your resume. Your cover letter should complement your resume, in that it delves into the high points and provides a fuller picture of who you are after the employer reads both.
In addition, while your resume language is pretty cut-and-dry, your cover letter should have a personal touch—almost like you’d write a letter to a friend or family member—expressing a tone and using language that is true to you. Also be sure to make your letter precise and punchy. You never, never need to go over one page—the goal here is to draw someone in and showcase your qualifications using as few words as possible. Now, you’ve got a checklist that’s easy to remember and that ensures your cover letter will showcase why you’re right for the job. So, your final checkpoint to get your cover letter ready to go? Make sure the one thing you’d want to say to your dream employer—before the elevator door closes on your conversation—is in your letter."
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