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7 Reasons Your Business Should Have a Blog

Blogging is a valuable tool in social media marketing and awareness these days. Each day of the week people entire keywords into search engines seeking answers to questions regarding work, life, products, and your company might just have the answer. If you have an online blog, they will find you in the search engine results and this helps drive business to your website. Here are 7 reasons:
1. A blog is a direct communication channel to your clients, even when you are not open.

Clients can read your blog and determine if you provide information that is relevant to their
need. A blog is a simple, easy-to-use platform for connecting. A blog creates a two-way
conversation that allows you to interact with customers, prospects, and industry peers. As a
side note, it is critical that you reply to all comments!
2. Your blog fuels search engine optimization (SEO).

 

Search engines love valuable content and will reward you for it by placing your companies information early in search parameters.

3. A blog creates a place to talk about new products or services.

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It allows you to share more about your company outside of the basic website and it lets you have some fun in the process. A blog allows you to prepare and share content that is creative and attractive.
4. Blogs share your expertise.

With a blog that stays on a topic relevant to your company, you can set your company up as a subject area or product expert.

5. A blog is a cost-effective marketing tool.

You can obtain a free blog site (multiple website services offer free blogs) or you can spend a few dollars to develop a blog with your specific business, service, or product name. In either case, the major cost is your time and we all know that marketing is a part of our everyday work effort.

6. You can take the time and use blogs to help tell your brand story.

With a blog, you are able to share more about your company philosophy, highlight employees, share upcoming product ideas, and of course speak about important things in your local community. The personal touch that comes with a blog lets clients know why you are in business and how you can be of assistance.
7. With a blog, you have instant access to your audience.

Analytical tools allow you to track readers, popular topics, shares, or comments. This information teaches you who your audience is and how you might want to engage them more regularly.

 

Do not wait another minute…start up that company blog today, expand your market reach, and learn more about your clients while they get to know you better.

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Writing a Novel vs. That Movie in Your Head

Does this sound familiar to you?

You watch a lot of movies and TV. You have a great imagination. For fun, you close your eyes and make up your own stories, seeing them play out. You might even listen to some music for a soundtrack. You grab your favorite actors for the roles of the heroes and villains. You make up big action scenes in slo-mo. You use fighting moves from your favorite video games.

At some point, you realize the movie you’re making in your mind is actually pretty good. You’ve got some original stuff in there that other people might like. You’ve got some twists and turns. And so you think, “Hey, I’ll start writing this stuff down.” Finally, you think, “This is going to make a great novel.” You might even think, “I’ll make a fortune selling the movie rights.”

There’s only one problem. (Well, there are hundreds of problems when you’re writing, but there’s only one I’m going to talk about right now).

Writing a novel is more than transcribing that movie in your head.

We Have More Senses than Seeing and Hearing

When people read a book, they want to feel they are “there,” living the story. A sure sign a writer’s got a movie playing in her head is that all the imagery in the novel is visual and auditory.

We smell, taste, have a sense of balance, feel, experience pain, get thirsty, itch, and a lot more of the same in our lives. While visual and auditory information take up a lot of our attention, we are easily distracted by a toothache or growling stomach. A room can look like heaven and smell like hell (especially when I haven’t cleaned the cat box).

Writing that only uses two senses can never feel like life.

You Cannot Recreate Movie Effects in a Novel

gaston beauty and the beast reading book

The movie in your head might look fantastic. It might run like a video and be exquisitely detailed. But you must remember that your ultimate product is a bunch of words on a page. Watching something explode and reading that something exploded will not produce the same effect in an audience.

Moreover, you are writing a novel, not a movie script. Slo-mo, distorted sound effects, lens flares, rack focus, and other such techniques are made to produce a super-heightened reality for a story told in two hours on a huge screen in Dolby stereo while the audience downs oversized buckets of popcorn.

The words on the page are the only tools through which the reader experiences the story. They should not be tools to remind us of movies we’ve seen.

Too Much Detail Kills

The experiences of reading and watching a movie are different. While a busy and well-filled screen can make for an immersive experience, it is a strange quality of writing that often less is more. Writing should fuel the reader’s own imagination by providing just enough detail and imagery. A single phrase on the page can build a universe in the reader’s mind.

And I’m not just talking about literary classics like Hemingway’s “The Killers,” which is a masterpiece of using tight writing with specific detail to tell a story of great emotional impact.

I also mean something like Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. The scenes where the dinosaurs attack people have short, direct sentences, quick and vivid descriptions of action, and terse dialogue.

Giving too much film-like detail and direction, no matter how beautiful it is in your head, actually stifles your reader’s ability to make your story their own.

A Novel Has No Soundtrack

A pet peeve of mine: stories that use lyrics to popular songs in an attempt to simulate a soundtrack. A couple is dancing in the rain, and the radio is playing, “You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs. But I look around me and I see it isn’t so.”

Blech.

More to the point, music is used in movies to set mood and drive pace. Good soundtracks do this well because, most of the time, we don’t notice. Movie scores work best when the audience takes it in unconsciously, helping their heart to race or their tears to swell.

Reading takes conscious effort. When a novel mentions music, readers don’t start playing the music in their heads, set the tune to “unconscious,” and then keep reading. They think about the music and wonder what it’s about. Then they stop thinking about the music and think about the next words on the page.

It’s All About the Words

Let’s take an example of great writing.

Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, further westwards, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely churchyard where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

(“The Dead,” James Joyce)

At first, yes, this could play out as a movie in your head: see the snow falling, see the bog and the water, see the churchyard.

But the passage does so much more, and what it does a movie can’t. The repetition of the words and the soft sounds of “f” and “s” mimic the sound of falling snow, not like music but like thoughts. Look at how well we are put inside the character’s head here. We experience the wandering of his mind across Ireland to Furey’s grave. Look at how the reader is invited to get more meaning from the “barren thorns” than just an image of thorns covered with snow. Look at the grace notes. It reads like a poem.

Words and words alone make novels. That’s what makes them so great and, for better or worse—depending upon which art form you favor—so unlike movies.

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Top 10 Editing Tricks of the Trade

This is my own personal list. Every editor has his own list, but the following are my tried
and true tricks of the trade.

1. Examine the paper’s general settings.

These are things such as page size, margins, spacing, font, font size, etc. Many of these items are so much easier to take care of first. Plus, if you have on Track Changes, changing some of these general settings for an entire paper will create a plethora of notations that will slow down your editing. 

2. Use Track Changes.

The aforementioned Track Changes (under the Tools drop down menu in Microsoft Word) is the most useful tool imaginable to communicate how much work the editor actually does throughout the editing process. Plus, it is perfect for the client who wants to manage every change. He can literally accept or reject each of your edits.

3. Spell check. Spell check. Spell check.

Why not use it before you jump into the read and knock out some of those troubling problems that Mr. Gates has helped alleviate? I commonly tell students that God created spell check on the 8th day (Bill Gates just borrowed the idea), so please use it! Spell check is commonly one of the first things and the very last thing I do when editing a paper.

4. Command-Z/Control-Z.

Mistakes happen. Sometimes you need an easy way to undo
the last mistake (or 15)! Control-Z on a PC and Command-Z on a Mac are the keystrokes
of note for undoing those mistakes (plus you can even redo an undo if necessary). Microsoft Word keeps tally of each change; you could literally undo every edit you made if necessary.

5. Carefully crafted comments.

Good editors leave helpful, instructive comments for writers that help them become better writers. In turn, that helps the editor in the long run have a higher quality manuscript to begin with. Most writers appreciate any comments you give.

6. Think encouragement.

Sometimes writers can love their writing so much that they get offended at critique. If you will encourage the author with your interactions and feedback, it will go a long way toward building a long-term relationship.

7. Put it aside for a day.

 

Having trouble? Sometimes you just need to step away from the material. A good night’s sleep, or even a day focused on something else, will help you read the material again with fresh eyes.

8. Find your muse.

Inspiration is not just for writers. I am inspired listening to music both as I write and edit (Ben Folds Five from my college days is playing right now). But maybe it is your location, frame of mind, favorite beverage, or the time of day that suits you best. Whatever works to aid your editing experience, go with it!

9. Beware the repagination.

When you get too many track changes in your editing, you might just experience the repaginating curse. Every few edits the entire document incredulously repaginates (it must know you have a deadline). If this happens, change the view you are editing the document with in Microsoft Word, and you will save lots of time and headaches along the way.

10. Clean it up.

Track changes are great, but I always send a clean copy of the paper for the client as well. While some clients want to review your work, others receive your edits and are ready to print and walk out the door with it for class.

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10 Surefire Tips for Securing Capital Investment

1) Protect your idea with a patent/copyright/trademark.


Depending on your business venture, you will need to take precautionary steps to protect your idea. This may involve filing a patent, copyright, or trademark. In any of these cases, it is important that you develop quality documents, easy to read figures, tables, and graphics so that the reviewer can determine the merit of your work. Venture capital investors may want to review these documents and along with your business plan, this might be the first impression of you and your capabilities.
Please remember that these protections do not keep someone else from trying to develop your idea, but they do give you the right to fight it out in court.

2) Write an excellent business plan.

Your business plan is a dynamic document. One investor group may need a particular format while another group may ask you to present the plan in their preferred review layout. The business plan needs to state who you are, what you are doing, why you need investment, the scope of the market (what is the valuation of the market), how you intend to proceed with the investment, and what the return on investment will be should someone invest. Most importantly, the business plan needs to be grammatically correct and have no spelling errors.

3) Have your business plan vetted and reviewed by experts in the field.

You need to take the time to have someone in your field read your business plan. Possibly a trusted colleague or a subject matter expert/reviewer/editor can help you with noticing the little things that are missing. These people can also help find areas of weakness in your business plan. With investors, you often have one opportunity to impress. Make sure that you put your best and most developed idea forward. In the business plan, it is important to point out how much you are investing of your own money into the idea.

4) Valuation is important.

Spend time thinking about the valuation and show that you did some real work on the projections. Find a banker or investor who might give you some time and help you develop the corporate valuation.

5) Develop a slide show.

To go along with your business plan you will need a slide deck that puts your business plan into pictures, graphs, text, and images that people can review. Many people are visual. Reading a long business plan may not be the first choice some individuals. Give them a slide show that they can scroll through and begin to “see” your idea.

6) Have your marketing plan developed and ready to show.


The success of many businesses comes with the marketing plan. It may seem like having your marketing plan all developed is not going to help you gain investment, but the truth is that investors will be far more impressed if you can show them the details of how you plan to make money on your idea and their investment.
Consider having flyers, a short video, and other items that will help you market to your target demographic. It is important to note that by developing your marketing, you will be able to fine-tune the demographic most likely to purchase your product or idea. Make sure to have all the documents, videos, and flyers proofread by multiple people. Nothing ruins a good marketing plan more than having bad grammar, typos, and spelling errors.

7) Invest your own money in the venture.


Invest at least a few thousand dollars in your new business. If you are not willing to invest, why will someone else want to loan you money? The capital investment you put in represents a material percentage of your net wealth and shows that you are dedicated to the success of the project.
Many entrepreneurs tell everyone about the sweat equity they are putting into the business. The truth is that everyone starting a new business is putting this type of effort in and potential investors expect this effort.

8) Have a working prototype available.


Investors do not want to take on product-development risk. If your idea is fabulous, they may take this risk but they will likely want a larger portion of your company. Have a working prototype available for review. A working prototype shows the investor that the development and proof-of-concept risk is mitigated.

9) Acquire Investment first from “friends and family.”


Many investors want to see that you have raised money from friends and family because it validates that people who know you think you are capable of making this idea come to life. How much should you seek from friends and family? This depends on your idea but $25,000 to $50,000 is a good sign that you are seen as capable and competent by family and friends.

10) Generate revenue.


This is a difficult task but very important. The company does not need to be making millions in the first month but a small amount of revenue will show that you have a good marketing plan and your idea is moving forward.

On a final note, raising capital is challenging and time consuming. If you take these ten steps, you will be better prepared to be a success in the capital investment round of funding.

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