May 24, 2013
rosemary published this at 9:20 am
By Leslie Anglesey
All writers have some type of inner editor. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have the discipline necessary to stay on track and on topic to either work for clients or focus on their own projects. At first glance, having this built-in critic might seem like a recipe for squashing creativity, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be something that will stop a writer in his or her virtual tracks.
At times, self-criticism has been blamed for the famous “writer’s block” but it may not be fair to blame getting stuck on the inner editor.
Many factors can contribute to a creative person having trouble getting into the groove of a project or having trouble getting started.
The issue may be:
- stress in another area of the writer’s life
- creative process the writer needs to go through to get a flash of inspiration hasn’t resulted in an “a-ha” moment yet
While the internal editor can’t be shut off entirely, there are ways to work with it to develop your writing. Keep in mind that it exists for a purpose, and you want to make sure that it doesn’t become so powerful that you are reticent to let anyone see your work.
Use a Diamond Shaped Model When Listening to Your Inner Editor
When you are thinking about how and when you should listen to your inner editor, consider using a diamond-shaped model to keep you on track with your writing projects. It should help you determine how to proceed.
When you are contemplating a project or thinking of making a pitch to an editor, keep your inner editor firmly in the background. This is the narrow part of the diamond shape. Don’t let it get in the way by telling you that you are wasting your time or that you aren’t good enough, so why are you bothering to apply or contact that editor. As a writer, you will get rejected, but you have no chance of getting anywhere if you never make a move toward your goals.
As you land a project and move into the broader part of the diamond shape, you want to start listening to your inner critic more. If you are ever tempted to stop digging in your research or not to go the extra mile because, “It’s probably good enough,” allow this part of your mind to poke or guilt you into giving your work that little bit of extra effort to make it the very best you can produce.
Likewise, don’t let any piece of writing leave your desk until you have taken the time to proofread and edit it carefully. This piece of advice also falls under the category of listening to your inner editor in the middle of a project, whether you are working on something for school or on a professional basis. Good enough simply isn’t good enough. Your inner editor should be on high alert at this stage of the game.
Confidence above All
As you proofread and edit your second draft, you should be able to feel a bit more confident about your work. Using the example of the diamond shape, the editor should once more start to go back toward the background, and you should be able to focus on your voice in your writing when you read the final version of your work. By the time you get to the version you are ready to turn in to your instructor or the client, the internal editor should be firmly in the background, leaving only your voice in place when you read through your work.
Will your work ever be exactly perfect as a writer? There will always be something that you “could” be doing to alter, fix, or tweak a piece of work to make it better, more interesting, or more “something.” There will have to be a point at which you may need to simply tell your inner editor that you have done your best and that it will have to be good enough. That’s all anyone can do, and you will try again with your next piece of writing, which is how writers grow and develop their craft.
What are your tricks for dealing with the inner critic?
Image: Flickr CC
May 23, 2013
rosemary published this at 5:48 am
Have you noticed? Big data is the new buzzword. Apparently, it’s so hot you should “make out with it,” according to Mitch Joel in his new book, CTR ALT DEL.
But if you’re like most entrepreneurs, bloggers, or small business owners, you have no clue what big data is, or how it might apply to your business.
So here is my all-access definition: “big data” is sets of information that are way too large to be accessed or analyzed on your average computer or set of servers. Think of data being fed from RFID tags globally, or all of the data in Facebook’s open graph, or earthquake sensor networks. You’re probably contributing to big data yourself, whenever you serve up an ad on your site from an ad network.
Maybe we should call it “medium data.”
Here are three ways you can use medium data to draw insights for your blog.
It’s free, and it’s getting deeper every day. If you haven’t signed up yet, here’s a quick tutorial on how to get started with Google Analytics.
At the most basic level, you can draw insights on who is visiting your blog, which content is the most popular, and where you can improve.
Once you dive deeper into the data, you can figure out whether all that time you spend on Twitter is actually driving people to your blog using Advanced Segments in Google Analytics.
Customer Surveys and Interaction
If you’re a blogger, your customer is a reader, perhaps a commenter or member of your community. Maybe they downloaded your eBook or signed up for an online course. Every time you interact with them, you have an opportunity to gather intelligence.
Whether it’s a quick one question “how did you like that book” sent in a followup email, or a more in-depth customer survey, you have the ability to pull together data to feed your future efforts.
John Jantsch said in an article a year ago, “Until a business of any size gets serious about listening to their customers, talking to their customers, and measuring every possible data and touch point, the promise of more data will only serve to distract.”
Accessing Big Data from Researchers
All of the data you use doesn’t have to come from your own blog site or customers. There are myriad free or inexpensive resources out there that can help you build business insights on your subject area.
Organizations like Edison Research, Gartner, and The Social Habit routinely produce scientifically valid research based on a much wider data set that you can access on your own. Find a research outlet that covers your industry or topic, and leverage their reports to come up with blog post ideas, watch for future trends, and increase your own utility to your audience.
Are you using data (small, medium, or big) to draw insights for your blog?
Image: Flickr CC
May 22, 2013
Dave published this at 4:06 pm
If you run your own company, you may or may not be involved in the marketing duties.
In some instances, company owners can afford to reach out and hire a marketing specialist to work onsite with them, while others take the option of having an outside firm that specializes in marketing do the job for them
Whichever way you determine to be best for your business, there are a number of factors that you should focus on, allowing you the best possibility of succeeding with your marketing needs.
* Don’t hit the panic button – First and foremost, you will find your business going through peaks and valleys during the course of the year, so never hit the panic button. You may get the urge to scale back your marketing budget when things are not going well, but that is likely the worst time to do that. While you’re toning down your marketing budget, your competition is likely going in the opposite direction. Reevaluate from time to time what’s working and what isn’t working, giving you the guidance necessary to move around money and efforts if need be. Remember, the day you stop marketing could be the prelude to the day you close your business.
According to research from AWeber Communications, close to 70 percent of small businesses said they would be adding to their marketing budgets in 2013, with some 97 percent planning on doing no less than maintaining their present level directed towards marketing expenses.
That being said, some well-known companies noted in the last year that they were scaling back their marketing over the next 12 months, with one even noting in hindsight, such a decision ended up costing his business customers and revenue.
Those making headlines included:
1. Campbell Soup Co. stated last summer that it would reduce its marketing budget over the next year, placing new emphasis on distribution, merchandising and product innovations. In fiscal 2012, Campbell’s marketing got a piece of $100 million of new investment the marketer put forth toward brand-building, research and development and innovation for its U.S. soup and simple meals business. That investment came as the business looked to distance itself from major discounting, which executives noted failed to lift sales volume as planned;
2. HTC (mobile phone maker) reported that less money and effort towards marketing has actually hurt its business in the last year. In comments to the Wall Street Journal, CEO Peter Chou stated that the company’s competitors proved to be both too strong and resourceful, placing lots of funding into marketing, while his company did not do as much.
While both Campbell Soup Co. and HTC continue to make money, reduced efforts on the marketing front are definitely reasons of concern for top executives.
While you may be hesitant to spend money on marketing, you can’t deny its importance.
Among the key facets to zero in on:
* Cohesive message – Whether you and your team do the marketing or you outsource it, make sure the message is one in the same. Your message needs to be clear and concise, meaning no confusion and questions for consumers. Make sure the foundation behind your message is solid, therefore allowing you to get a better return on your efforts. This brings us back to the question of whether or not it is better to outsource your marketing needs? On the plus side, you can put it in the hands of professionals who know the ins and outs of marketing, alleviating some of the daily tasks that you need to do to run your business. On the down side, you better than anyone else know your company, what makes it tick, and what its goals are. If you outsource the marketing, those strengths need to be conveyed to the individual or company;
* Social media – You may be the brightest and hardest working business owner going, but how involved and educated are you when it comes to social media? If the answer is not really, then you are missing out on a great opportunity to promote your company. Starting with social media, this should be a no-brainer, yet there are many businesses out there that fail to grasp how easy and effective this tool can be. Not only does having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other major SM sites give you instant access to a larger swath of consumers, but you can be tuned-in to their needs 24/7. You also can focus in on what is being said about your brand, both positive and negative. Lastly, social media is a good tool for you to put out any potential fires in the cases of negative information about you and/or your company. As more and more consumers turn to social media sites and online forums to talk about companies and their experiences with them, you want to be along for the ride;
* Blogging – Do you ever troll different business sites in your free time, only to be amazed how many of them do not have blogs? This is yet another great tool to promote one’s company, still many business owners either don’t want to take the time or fail to realize the potential of blogs. Your company blog is a great marketing tool in telling consumers what you offer, how you can stand out as an authoritative figure in your respective industry, and how you are up to speed with what is going on in your field. If you have yet to actively engage in blogging, take note that it needs to be relevant, update on a regular basis, and promoted. If you are not willing to do it right, then you’re probably best served not doing it at all;
* Relationships do matter – Lastly, how often do you reach out to your current list of customers? They may seem silly, but contacting them with a quick email or other form of communication on their birthdays, offering them special deals, and asking them if you can do anything else for them are all important. In a day and age when consumers have so many different options to choose from, building your relationship with them is key. When your customers feel valuable, they are apt to want to continue doing business with you. If you take them for granted, they may very well take their business elsewhere.
So, where are your marketing plans and budget as we head into the halfway point of 2013?
Photo credit: keyhousemedia.com
About the Author: With 23 years’ writing experience, Dave Thomas covers a variety of business and consumer topics, including convertible car seats.
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