Monday

Three Article and Blog Marketing Tips

I think many of us writers/authors are using article marketing to bring traffic back to our sites. I've been doing it for a while and as with many things in life, I am still learning.

For those of you who may not be aware of the benefits of article marketing, it is a useful tool to create and increase your visibility online. And, it's simple to do. Just write informational or entertaining articles and submit them to ezines such as Ezine Articles, Associated Content, Suite101, and Helium.

Within these articles (at the end) you are usually allowed to include a resource box which is information about you with a link back to your site. Check the ezine site's guidelines to ensure acceptance of your article.

Now, here are the three article and blog marketing tips:

1. When including your bio/promo/resourcebox at the end of your article for the ezine, be sure to link to a specific page on your website (one that relates to your article or the offer you are promoting). Do Not link to your home page.

Example: If your article is about the benefits of having your manuscript professionally edited, link back to a post on your site relating to editing, or if you have services for hire, link to your editing services page.

2. Within the content of your blog, link to one of your related articles or posts, or both.

Example: If your blog post is about writing for children, link to another of your posts about this topic or one of your ezine articles related to it.

3. Make sure your site is focused. 

Example: If you are promoting a writing services site, it's not the wisest marketing strategy to include How To Write, or Become a Better Writer offers on that site.

Okay, #3 is more of a website tip, but your blog posts and articles are tools to bring traffic back to your site so make it work for you.

Bottom line: BE FOCUSED and make each post or article work for you in more ways than one!

I realize there may be some of you who might have questions, just ask by commenting and I'll be happy to answer.


Until next time,

Karen
http://karencioffifreelancewriting.com 

Thursday

Holiday Season Wishes

This post has a two-fold purpose:


First: Thank you to all our followers and subscribers - YOU ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED!


Second: Have a HAPPY, SAFE, HEALTHY, and WONDERFUL Holiday season.


And, we wish you a prosperous and healthy NEW YEAR!


Karen

Wednesday

Article Directories and Ghostwriting - Strategies to Save You Time

With everyone so busy these days, we are all looking for strategies to help us get more done in less time. Well, there are a few ways to do this - we'll discuss two of them today.

Article Directories

This is a great way to add great content to your site. You can visit the vast number of directories out there in cyberspace and pick and choose for the articles that work best for your niche. I’ve found articles I’ve written for directories that have been picked up and posted on a number of sites, so I know it’s a good strategy to keep in mind. The author is happy to see writers utilizing their work, and the blogger has fresh content for his/her site. That's what you call a win-win situation.

There are hundreds if not more of article directories. A few of the popular ones are: EzineArticles.com; AssociatedContent.com; Suite101.com; Helium.com; Examiner.com; iSnare.com; and ArticleCity.com. They all have a search feature that will make it easy to find the type of articles you are looking for.

Please keep in mind though, you must keep the article intact – this means keeping any and all bylines and links. Otherwise folks, it’s called plagiarism.

Ghostwriting

Ghostwriting isn't about scary stories and ghosts, it's about providing you with great content, articles and more... with you getting all the credit! This is the perfect strategy when you want that personal touch and when you want an article or story to reflect you. It is collaboration between the ghostwriter and the author. Providing the ghostwriter with facts, impressions, or ideas will help him/her create an article that will seem as if it's coming from you.

While it's fine to add articles from article directories, it's important to create your own platform also. The only way to become known as an expert in your niche is to let others know that you know what you're talking about. This means providing information with your own personal style.

You can also work with a ghostwriter to create e-books to sell, or offer as freebies on your site. This is a great way to entice readers to subscribe to your site and increase your mailing list.

And, don't forget about your email campaigns and newsletter; ghostwriters can help you keep your mailings updated with fresh and informative information.

If you're finding it hard to keep up and/or need help with your writing stop by DKV Writing 4 U. We're having an amazing New Year's Special from January 1 through the 15th. Can't be beat prices and even FREEBIES!

Until next time,
Karen Cioffi, Freelance Writer


Monday

Being a Gracious Virtual Guest

Last post I discussed being a gracious virtual host. Well, just as important is being a gracious virtual guest. Now, some of you writers may be wondering why learning about all this is necessary. Simple, an important aspect of writing is promotion - creating a platform and visibility. If no one knows you’re out there, how will you become rich and famous, right? Okay, we all know that probably at least 95% of writers don’t become rich and famous, but you still need to become known in your own space. This is accomplished through promotion. One promotional strategy is virtual tours.

Virtual tours provide an avenue to showcase you and your work. Writers with blogs feature a guest. Maybe the guest wants to promote his freelance capabilities, his expertness in a particular area, or his books, whatever the case, virtual tours is a great means to do this. Since the host is going out of his way to feature you, what should you do to show your appreciation and make the event a success?

Steps to Take to be a Gracious Guest

1. This is an important step: Make sure your content, the information you provide to your host, is fresh, up to date, and interesting. What does this mean? If you were hosted a week ago by another writer, try not to use the same exact information. If you do, it’s not the end of the world because each blogger has his own readers, groups, and promotional strategies, so it’s likely the same readers won’t see it twice in such close succession, but it’s highly advisable to try and avoid it.

To sidetrack a bit here, as the manager of a group of authors who use cross-promotion to increase visibility and readership, I pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. Having something entertaining, interesting or informative is key to attracting readers/visitors to your tour or your site. But, I’ll go into more detail about this in another article. Back to being a gracious guest.

2. Communicate with your host. Make sure you understand what your host expects and needs. Not all bloggers host in the same way. One host may want to do an interview, one may want an in depth bio, one may want an article, one may expect pure promo content…

3. Make sure you send your content within the time frame your host states. It’s kind of like being invited for dinner and showing up late…don’t do it. And, be sure you send everything your host will need. Sending it in drips and drabs is another no-no.

4. Promote, Promote, Promote the tour. This is another very important aspect of touring. While your host should also be promoting the tour, it is your guest spot. The whole idea behind doing tours is to increase your visibility. You can’t do this without promotion.

One basic strategy is to announce the tour to your social networks and writing groups – get the word out.

5. During the tour stop by your host’s site at least a couple of times throughout the day. And, if you have the time, it would be nice to stop by once the next day to answer any questions from commenters who may have visited late. You should also thank the commenters for taking the time to leave a comment.

6. Thank your host.

That’s about it. A finale note though: remember to pay it forward. When a writer is looking for someone to host him, step forward!

Karen Cioffi
http:karencioffifreelancewriter.com


Saturday

Being a Gracious Virtual Host

With the new year upon us, it might be a good idea to go over some of the basics of being a gracious and proficient virtual host. For those who may be unsure as to what a virtual host is, I’m talking specifically about hosts of virtual author/book tours.

Here’s a brief description of a virtual book tour (vbt): A vbt is a promotional strategy to create visibility for the author and his book. Writers, and others, with blogs promote the author by featuring him and his work on their blogs.

I manage a group of authors in a cross-promotional group and as part of our marketing strategy we have monthly virtual tours. While each guest does not always focus entirely on his/her book (which I call “pure promo”), no matter what the guest decides to offer it is up to the host to present it in a ‘special feature kind of light,’ especially when utilizing cross-promotion.

You might be asking, why is it so important when in a cross-promotion venture. Well, because you are also the recipient of being featured. Another host is going out of his way to present you and your work in a manner that will:

1. Attract readers

2. Make your content appear fresh and interesting

3. Include images (author and book cover)

4. Lead visitors to click on the Learn More About link

5. If a book is being featured, make it appear inviting enough to hopefully warrant the reader to click on the Buy link

So, as the Good book teaches: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!

Now on to what makes a gracious host:

1. Communicate with your guest. Ask what he would like to feature

2. Include Steps 1-5 above

3. PROMOTE your post. This means posting messages in your groups/forums, on Twitter, and other social networks

4. Make sure visitors will find it easy to leave a comment

5. Stop by during the day of the post to respond to commenters

6. Thank your guest for being there

7. This is super duper important: do not publish another post on the day you are featuring a guest, it would be inconsiderate. Please note this pertains to hosts' who promote and link back to their blog page rather than a direct link to their guest's featured post.

So, that pretty much sums up what is needed to be a gracious host. If you can think of other ways, I’d love hear about them.


Until next time,
Karen
http://karencioffifreelancewriter.com

Wednesday

Holiday Eating Tips

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.


2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare.. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas! 
 

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.


4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.


5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of goin g to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?


6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.


7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?


9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.


10. One final tip: January dieting is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:


"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand and wine in the other hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO what a ride!"


Have a save and happy holiday season!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This was posted by a member at one of my groups - she did not mention who the author is, but did say it is fine to pass along!


Karen Cioffi
Platform Building with Content Marketing

Tuesday

Guest Post - Revel in Your Uniqueness

Every now and then I find an article that I think others will benefit from and with the author's permission, I post them here. This one is one of those articles.

Revel in Your Uniqueness

By Beth Ann Erickson

I'm sure you're acutely aware that competition amongst writers can be fierce. As literacy rates fall, as more people enter the field, as publishers slash budgets, as magazines fold, as copywriting courses churn out more copywriters than ever before... it's easy to become discouraged over the state of this business.

That's the bad news.

But there's a huge silver lining to this cloud that most people rarely focus on.

With nearly 200 (literally) books published daily, with more writers entering the field, with more writers vying for a more limited number of assignments you must realize that you have one thing under your control. And that would be yourself.

You do not sell your writing. You don't sell your book either. Nobody wakes up in the morning wishing they could buy a book. They don't yearn to hire a writer either.

They're looking for an expert, someone who knows how to entertain, how to inform, how to sell.
They're looking for you.

Other authors can replicate your books. They can swipe ideas. Everything's up for grabs except for one thing.

You cannot be replicated.

So you must step out from behind the curtain and establish yourself as an expert.

“USP” stands for “Unique Selling Proposition.” It represents the one aspect of your writing career that's utterly unique. It's the one thing that can't be replicated.

Nail your USP and you've got half marketing challenges conquered.

No matter what you write, always keep your USP in the back of your mind whenever you have to pop on your marketing hat and promote yourself.

When you're considering your USP keep this in mind:

1.    What do you do better than your primary competition?
2.    What are your strengths?
3.    What are your competition's strengths?
4.    What are your weaknesses?
5.    What are your competition's weaknesses?
6.    How can you capitalize on your competition's weaknesses?
7.    How can you shift your competition's strengths to benefit you?
8.    What's unique about you?
9.    What part of your writing cannot be replicated by anyone else?
10.    How can you clearly state your uniqueness so your intended audience can comprehend it in a moment?

Ponder these points and formulate your USP. Once that's done, be sure to incorporate it into every promotion you craft.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Beth Ann Erickson is the “Queen Bee” of Filbert Publishing. She’s also the author of numerous titles as well as the Creative Mindset Newsletter. Pick up the first seven copies here. She’s also a busy copywriter, speaker, and publisher of Writing Etc., the free e-mag for writers.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

NEED HELP WITH YOUR PLATFORM BUILDING?

VISIT: PLATFORM BUILDING WITH CONTENT MARKETING

Sunday

Blogger Tip

For the past couple of months I've been having some problems with my blog. For one thing my prescheduled posts didn't post. And, my content didn't appear as I prepared it.

I have to say I was getting an error message every time I posted, telling me the HTML couldn't be accepted. Now, I don't add any HTML of my own, so I figured it was just a glitch and I clicked on ignore warning.

But, just for the heck of it I went over to blogger help and posted my problem. One of the pros there asked if I was pasting from Word. YES, I always did right from when I first created this blog - never had a problem until a couple of months ago.

So, I now paste my Word content onto a Notepad doc and then paste it from there to here. It's not really any extra work.

I'm hoping that's it. I haven't actually prescheduled a post yet, but I'll try this week.

LESSON: Don't paste from a Word doc to your blogger post.


Tip: The same thing holds true for Wordpress also.

Till next time,
Karen
Karen Cioffi, Freelance Writer

Monday

Problems and a COOL TIP for Your Website

I'm not sure what's going on, but yesterday my second post for Amy didn't post. For some reason it saved as a draft instead of a pre-scheduled post. It could have been my error, but I'm not so sure.

On my DKV site, yesterday I lost my home page text and right sidebar - completely gone!

And, I lost the page that held the free offer for the site. CRAZY!

So, I spent most of the day redoing the DKV site. I'm still missing the right sidebar when going to it from IE. I'm thinking the code for the subscribe form must be in word doc. I'll have to delete that and reinstall it using Notepad text.

AHHGGG

Before I redid the site, I went to this cool site that actually gives you any errors in your HTML for your site. I had 129 errors and 10 warnings. Unfortunately, I don''t know how to fix the errors, but it's interesting to know.


Here's the site: http://validator.w3.org/

Friday

BookSurge is Uniting With CreateSpace

Wow, this is NEWS! Here's an email from BookSurge to their clients:


We have some exciting news to share - BookSurge is becoming CreateSpace. BookSurge and CreateSpace have historically operated as two distinct brands of one company - On-Demand Publishing LLC, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. - and are now uniting on the CreateSpace platform and brand to offer you an expanded catalog of publishing tools and services. You will still be working with the same team and receive the same high level of service to which you've been accustomed with BookSurge.

During the coming months, we will be transitioning all BookSurge accounts to CreateSpace and retiring the BookSurge brand. In addition, BookSurge's self-publishing services are now available on the CreateSpace platform, enabling BookSurge and CreateSpace members to benefit from the same knowledgeable staff that has supported BookSurge authors for years.

What does this mean for you?

In addition to the same personal customer care, professional publishing services, and top-notch print quality you receive today from the BookSurge team, you will also receive these benefits and options through CreateSpace:
• Get more flexibility in setting royalties and list prices
• Publish new books without setup fees, using the do-it-yourself option for print-ready PDF files or continue to take advantage of the wide array of professional fee-based publishing services you're accustomed to using through BookSurge
• Receive better wholesale book prices on most book orders
• Gather feedback on your work with the free Preview tool
• Create eye-catching book covers online using the free Cover Creator
• Network with thousands of other authors and industry professionals in our free online CreateSpace Community
• Publish video and audio in multiple formats: DVDs, CDs, video downloads, and MP3s

When and how will this transition take place?

We will be transitioning all BookSurge accounts to CreateSpace over the next few months. The timing and path of your account transition will depend on where you are in your current BookSurge publishing project. To learn more about the different paths for transition, visit our Transition Guide.

To make this transition as smooth and seamless as possible, we will be transferring your book files and account history to CreateSpace for you. On the day your account is transitioned, BookSurge will send you an e-mail with instructions for accessing your CreateSpace account. Until then, no action is required on your part and you will still have full access to your current Global Publishing System (GPS) account with BookSurge.
We know you may have some questions, so we have developed a Transition Guide, which includes a host of support materials, including answers to Frequently Asked Questions, info on your new CreateSpace account, video tutorials, and more.

While we want you to start familiarizing yourself with CreateSpace, please do not set up a new CreateSpace account on your own, as we will create a CreateSpace account for you as part of this transition. Please wait until you receive notification from us via e-mail that your account has been transitioned to CreateSpace, at which time we'll give you instructions on how to access your CreateSpace account and existing book titles. Until we notify you that your account has been transitioned to CreateSpace, you will still have access to your BookSurge account.

We believe uniting BookSurge and CreateSpace on the CreateSpace platform will provide you with the best possible publishing experience and look forward to continuing to support you in your book publishing endeavors.

We welcome you into CreateSpace's thriving community of independent authors, filmmakers and musicians!

Warm Regards,
The BookSurge/CreateSpace Team

The first thing that comes to my mind is less competition among Amazon's subsidiaries. What do you think this means for authors venturing onto the self-publishing road? Do you think this will increase the costs?

Karen

Tuesday

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Update

There seems to be a great deal of apprehension about the FTC's update to their Guide concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, including bloggers. This update, which took effect this month, has a number of writers, specifically book reviewers, a little concerned.

Like most of us, at first I thought it was a means of the government reaching out to create havoc with online reviewers and the books they receive in their work. Any product a reviewer receives must be disclosed along with the review. As compensation was mentioned, I figured it wouldn’t be long before the government decided reviewers needed to list the review books or products as income.

After reading the FTC’s 12 page document, I think I had it wrong. I have no problem with a reviewer having to disclose the source of his or her review product. Receiving a product to review does not ensure the reviewer will give a good review. And, I’m not sure the FTC is concerned with book reviews.

As a courtesy to this site's readers here is the FTC’s Press Release pertaining to the changes:

FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials
Changes Affect Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers, Celebrity Endorsements

October 5, 2009

The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.

The notice incorporates several changes to the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The Guides were last updated in 1980.

Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.

The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

Celebrity endorsers also are addressed in the revised Guides. While the 1980 Guides did not explicitly state that endorsers as well as advertisers could be liable under the FTC Act for statements they make in an endorsement, the revised Guides reflect Commission case law and clearly state that both advertisers and endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement – or for failure to disclose material connections between the advertiser and endorsers. The revised Guides also make it clear that celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.

The Guides are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves. In any law enforcement action challenging the allegedly deceptive use of testimonials or endorsements, the Commission would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act.

The Commission vote approving issuance of the Federal Register notice detailing the changes was 4-0. The notice will be published in the Federal Register shortly, and is available now on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release. Copies also are available from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,700 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Betsy Lordan
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-3707

STAFF CONTACT:
Richard Cleland
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3088

You can read about the changes in the document itself at:
http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf

I'm not a lawyer, but I think for the time being book reviewers are safe.

I'd love to know what your views are.

Talk to you soon,
Karen

Friday

Five Tips to Get Published--ASAP!

In an effort to provide useful, new, and interesting content for my readers, I will occasionally use other writers' articles - with their permission of course!

Please remember that when using another writer's article you should always include the author's entire byline.

Now on to the article:

Five Tips to Get Published - ASAP!

By Beth Ann Erickson

There are hundreds of variables that can determine how quickly you’ll get published. The economy and financial condition of a publication can determine how many freelance articles they purchase. Maybe you can hit an editor on a bad day and he/she hates everything he/she reads, even your manuscript.

As you can see, many of these variables are out of your control.

That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news. There are variables you control, and how you treat these variables will have a direct influence on how often you get published.

Here are five basic tips you can use on a daily basis that will enhance your chances of hitting pay dirt. Here they are:

1. Learn everything you can about your craft.

Attend classes. Read writing books. Subscribe to e-mags that will help your career. Just like a carpenter who must purchase tools so he can practice his craft, you must invest in the tools that will make you a better writer than your competition.

2. Read everything you can get your hands on.

Read fiction, nonfiction, direct mail, read everything you can find. When you become a voracious reader, you become a better writer. There are no short cuts. So turn off the television. Crack open a book. And have a ball.

3. Target the publications you want to write for – then become familiar with them.

Subscribe to the magazines you want to write for. Purchase books in your genre. Get on GOOD direct mail mailing lists. If you’re short on cash, visit your library on a regular basis and read books and magazines there.

When you’re paging through your target magazines or books from a publisher you’re planning on contacting, try to visualize their ideal reader. Then as you write, write directly to that reader. An editor who knows you’ve taken the time to research their company will be FAR more willing to give your manuscript a read-through.

4. Read EVERYTHING you send out aloud.

You’ll catch typos, grammos, and generally dumb sentences when you read EVERYTHING you write aloud. I read The Almach aloud at least three times. Jumpstart went through the same process. Reading your manuscripts aloud will not guarantee that they’ll be perfect, but you’ll discover that your writing is much easier to read after this exercise. It takes time but it’s worth it. Just purchase some throat lozenges (I use Jolly Ranchers) and get going.

5. Never give up, never give up, never give up.

Write on a daily basis. It’s easy to get discouraged when a rejection letter flows in. But having a number of queries floating around in cyberspace keeps that little flame of hope burning bright. I’m thoroughly convinced that the only way we can fail as writers is if we give up. As long as you don’t give up, you’ll definitely be published. Eventually.

If these tips sound like a lot of work, they are. But the work you put into honing your writing and researching your target publications will be reflected in the number of acceptance letters you receive.

These simple tips will make your writing absolutely sparkle when the editor reads your words. You’ll outshine your competition. And when you outshine your competition, you’ve just enhanced your chances of getting published.

~~~
Beth Ann Erickson is Queen Bee of Filbert Publishing and the only writing ezine that'll make your writing sparkle, help you write killer queries, and get you on the road to publication fast. Better yet, you'll receive the e-booklet "Power Queries" when you sign up for your free subscription. Subscribe today at http://FilbertPublishing.com

I hope you enjoyed this article.

Talk to you soon,
Karen

Saturday

Back to School Basics for Teachers

Well, so much for summer break. The grind is just around the corner. Yeah, I know two months isn’t long enough, but hey, it’s pretty good. Start getting in gear to go back to the professional attire and mindset, early morning rising, and don’t forget to get your bladder in shape so that one daily visit to the rest room will be enough.

Okay, let’s go down the checklist for the things you’ll need to get prepared for the inevitable day:

1. Don’t forget to wait until the last minute to get your teacher supplies at the teacher store so you’ll have time to make an hour worth of phone calls while you’re waiting on line because all the other teachers waited for the last minute also.

2. Get started writing your lesson plans for the first couple of weeks, but don’t get too attached to them because you know they’ll change once you get in the swing of things.

3. Remember to agonize over picking that first day’s book that you’ll read to your class. Of course, they will be absolutely enthralled and give you 100% of their attention – they’ve been waiting all summer to have this book read to them.

4. Create a new schedule plan. No more beach days; no more waking up at 10am; no more having the use of a restroom ANY time of the day; no more use of the phone anytime of the day; no more eating whenever you want; and no more peace and quiet.

5. Start working today to get your body and mind prepared for 30 restless kids with different personalities, strengths and weakness; for 30 sets of parents with different personalities; for the school administration, and for your co-workers. Start building your strength, stamina, and inner resilience – you’re going to need it.

6. Get your mindset in order. Repeat the following mantra 100 – 1000 times a day:
My days in class will be productive and calm; my students will not affect my well-being; I will remember my teaching skills; my students are great and I love them; my students enjoy learning; all my students will pass the State tests with flying colors; my students’ parents are wonderful as is my school administration.

7. Calm your nerves. You will be able to teach again; you will be able to get back into your professional mode; you will be able to concentrate on what you’re doing.

8. Watch those late nights. Be sure to start at least a week before school and go to bed at a reasonable hour. You will definitely need your rest.

9. Mark the calendar: 180 working days to go until next summer’s vacation – let the countdown begin!

If you like this article, you may like the August 25th post: Back to School Countdown, just scroll down a bit!

Karen

Tuesday

Back to School Countdown

Five, four, three, two…yup, it’s that time of year again, rising early, getting to school on time, homework, tests…yuck!

But you know, it’s not really that bad. If you’re prepared and get into the right mindset, that’s half the battle. Everything we have to do in life and come up against in life gives us two options: (1) put a positive or good spin on it, (2) dread it.

Since you have to do it anyway, you might as well opt for Option #1.

To get you started in the right direction, here is a list to help you get in gear for, “school time, school time, good ole golden rule time.”

The Do List:

1. Many teachers have lists of what you will need for your upcoming school year. Try to find out if your new teacher has one and how you can get a hold of it.

2. To avoid needed school items being sold out; have Mom or Dad let you do your shopping early.

3. Make sure to get the items that are actually listed. If the list says “one red pen” don’t come to class with a green or purple one.

4. At least a week before school starts, go to bed at the time you normally would on school nights. This will give your body a chance to get accustomed to waking and eating breakfast early. If you do this, your body and mind won’t scream at you that first school day morning, “Hey, are you crazy? Only roosters are up at this time!”

5. A week before that inevitable morning, start a new mantra (saying): “I will listen to my teacher. I will listen to my teacher. I will listen to my teacher.” You can say this 100 to 1000 times a day. Another useful mantra is: “I will be respectful to my teacher and classmates. I will be respectful to my teacher and classmates. I will be respectful to my teacher and classmates.” Either of these two mantras is fine.

6. Make sure to get to school on time and obey your school and classroom rules. Practice Rule #5 so this won’t be a problem.

7. If you are required to have your classroom items in class the first week of school – have them there the first week…having them at home doesn’t cut it. You have to actually bring them to class.

8. What about the reading you were to do over the summer? Did you do it? Well, if you didn’t, start today. It’s better to read a least one book than none. Did you know that anything you want to be, an astronaut, a doctor, a firefighter, a superhero, all require reading. Okay, not the superhero, that just takes a good imagination.

These 8 Do's should give you a jump start on a smooth new school year.

Now for the Don’ts:

1. Don’t ignore the Do list above!


Talk to you soon,
Karen

Monday

The Private Label Rights Strategy

Private Label Rights (PLR), for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, is a type of content or product that, once purchased, allows you to reuse it as your own. Although every publisher gives different rights with their content, you are usually able to rewrite it, add your name, divide it up and sometimes even publish it as is. There are also other PLR products that require you to reuse it intact with the original author’s name. So, check the rights when purchasing. The PLR products that allow you to use the article as your own are very similar to ghostwriting in that someone else writes the content, and you may publish it under your own name.

If you're going to promote yourself online or try to earn money online you have to be able to manage your time. PLR products free up time – it’s plain and simple. You don't have to spend that time writing info on new products. You don't have to write that content for your website, and you don't have to write all of those articles for article directories. Freeing up time is a big deal - that's time you can be spending doing other things.

If you haven’t been using PLR products, you might want to give them a try. There are a number of uses for this type of product: You can give it away as a bonus or gift; use it to build your subscriber list; use it as content for your website or blog; use it to create an ebook to offer as a freebie or sell on your site; use it in your newsletters; you can even rewrite it and really make it your own, then send it to article directories. Be creative and get the most uses you can out of them.

In addition to the above uses, PLR content is also a great tool if you’re an affiliate marketer. It is impossible to know everything about everything, but with PRL articles you don’t have to. If you need a health article, a business article, an insurance article, whatever the topic, just find reputable sites that offer these types of articles and you’re off and running. PLR products can be a great tool.

While there are a number of advantages to using PLR, you need to find a provider that offers quality products. Along with this be sure to proofread the content before using or publishing it as your own. Some providers that offer PLR content may be foreigners, not familiar with the English language. Others may just be out to make a quick buck. And, even those who write for a living may not put the same effort or time into a PLR article that they would for one being published under their own name. Printing or publishing a low grade article or content may do more damage to your promotional efforts than good. So, be sure to proofread the PLRs you purchase. The same holds true for PLR videos, audios and so on…check them before using them.

PLR products are an investment just like your domain name and web hosting.
We invest in these tools to create visibility which in turn can very well lead to a visitor clicking that BUY button or Affiliate Product button.

See you in blog world,
Karen

Wednesday

A 2009 Witch Hunt

I started this VBT - Writers on the Move Viewpoint topic thinking I would discuss the pros and cons of copywriting. To refresh my memory I went back to the post I was basing my article on and decided to read most of the 673 comments.

What an eye opener! The original post is on the site zenhabits and posted by Leo Babauta, sometime in April 2009. 

The article began: “Today I received an email from the lawyers of author Susan Jeffers, PhD., notifying me that I’d infringed on her trademark by inadvertently using the phrase “feel the fear and do it anyway” in my post last week, A Guide to Beating the Fears That Hold You Back […] Her lawyers asked me to insert the (R) symbol after the phrase, in my post, and add this sentence: “This is the registered trademark of Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. and is used with her permission.”

Leo Babauta went on to write about the horrors of infringing on a person’s right to use the English language and stated that he would not comply with the letter’s request. His, obviously, loyal followers quickly jumped on the bandwagon and went so far as to post false reviews on Ms. Jeffers Amazon page. As a direct result, her Amazon ratings dropped.

What’s so bizarre is that most of the commenters had no idea what they were talking about, yet they still took vicious action. One commenter stated that Ms. Jeffers husband is her lawyer, which another commenter explained was not true. It was also brought to light that the letter Mr. Babauta received was not from a lawyer, but was simply a trademark letter. The majority of the commenters accused Ms. Jeffers of being greedy and pledged not to buy any of her books. A couple of commenters asked Mr. Babauta to post the letter for clarification, claiming that he used the phrase and letter as a ploy to drive traffic to his site which is monetized.

Leo Babauta’s site blogs about things similar to Ms. Jeffers books and teachings, such as overcoming fear and self-help, so what was the big deal in giving her credit for the phrase? He states in his article that he was taking a stand against copywriting and trademarks, but did he have to use Susan Jeffers name to make his stand? Mr. Babauta seems to be a savvy blogger; his philosophy of free speech and sharing is a wonderful concept, but there are better ways of promoting it. Only Mr. Babauta knows what his true motives were. Unfortunately, whether this post was simply venting or contrived, Ms. Jeffers paid a price.

A 2009 witch hunt was activated by one post. The power of the internet is actually frightening. It taught me a valuable lesson: pause, think and even research before you write. The internet can be an amazing source of knowledge and help, but it can also be like a tidal wave bringing irreversible damage along with it.

So, my questions are:

1. What are your thoughts on giving credit where it’s due?
2. Are trademarks and copywriting out of control?

Please let me know what you think!

To read the ZenHabits post, go to:
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway


~~~~~
Karen

More With Carolyn Howard-Johnson


We're back with Carolyn Howard-Johnson and today we’ll go over some of Carolyn’s books, but first I’d like to tell you about the two I recently read.

The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success is a must have book for all writers. It is jammed pack with information, tips, and advice to guide and help you with the writing process. From how you punctuate your titles to query letters, it’s covered. What I especially like about this book is its detail. Carolyn gives step-by-step instructions for things such as using Word’s Track and Find functions. It even mentions the word snuck. This may not sound important, but I very recently wrote a story for children and used the word snuck in it. I will be changing that word to sneaked thanks to Carolyn’s tip. What are the chances? The book also includes other great resources for making your writing the best it can be. The Frugal Editor will stay by my computer so it will be readily available every time I sit to write.

Next up is The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t. This book is such a great resource for promoting yourself and your books. For lack of better words, I have to repeat myself: it is jammed packed with great information, tips and advice - I mean that literally. The Frugal Book Promoter explains what PR is, including branding, your tagline, and your pitch. It explains how to build your Media Kit as well as how to build your credentials to include in your kit. The Frugal Book Promoter has 38 chapters and each one is filled with practical and detailed information. If you want to get your book reviewed, appear on television, take part in a book fair, know what to do before and after you sign that contract, or want to utilize Amazon’s features, this book has it all. And, as with The Frugal Editor, Carolyn included a number of other great resources to help with your promotion efforts. If you have a book you want to promote, or just as important, if you are writing a book, The Frugal Book Promoter will be an essential tool in your promotional journey.

Now, here’s more about these two books and other books Carolyn has written:
The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t
ISBN: 193299310X
Publisher: Star Publish
Awards: Winner USA Book News, Irwin Award
Price: $17.95 but discounted at:: http://www.amazon.com/Frugal-Book-Promoter-What-Publisher/dp/193299310X/

For only a few cents a day The Frugal Book Promoter assures your book the best possible start in life. Full of nitty - gritty how - tos for getting nearly-free publicity, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, an instructor for UCLA’s Writers’ Program, shares her professional experience as well as practical tips gleaned from the successes of her own book campaigns. She tells authors how to do what their publishers can’t or won’t and why authors can often do their own promotion better than a PR professional.

A recommendation from BarnesandNobel.com: Feather Schwartz Foster, an author, September 9, 2004:

Packed With Wonderful Information! For anyone who has written a book of any kind - this is a must-have, and must-keep guide! Every chapter is filled with insights and how-tos and a whole bunch of where to finds!
---------

The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success
ISBN: 9780978515874
Publisher: Red Engine Press
Awards: Winner USA Book News, Reader Views Literary Award, New Generation Marketing Award

To Order: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0978515870/

There are gremlins out there determined to keep your work from being published, your book from being promoted. They -- resolved to embarrass you before the gatekeepers who can turn the key of success for you -- lurk in your subconscious and the depths of your computer programs. Whether you are a new or experienced author, The Frugal Editor will help you present whistle-clean copy (whether it's a one-page cover letter or your entire manuscript) to those who have the power to say "Yea" or "Nay."
---------


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is also the award-winning author of:
This is the Place (a historical novel set in Utah in the 1950s)
Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered (these are creative nonfiction - told like stories but true nonetheless)
Tracings (a traditionally published chapbook of nostalgic poetry - Papeback only with satin ribbon bookmark)

Other books by Carolyn:
She Wore Emerald Then: Reflections on Motherhood (coauthored by Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson - Available as paperback or e-book)
Cherished Pulse (an e-chapbook of Valentine poetry co-authored by Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson

And, last, but certainly not least, Carolyn’s newest book:
A Retailer's Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How to Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrift Events and Sales Techniques.
-----------

Finally, I wanted to mention Carolyn’s newsletter, Sharing With Writers. It’s a great source of news, tips, resources and articles. Go to HOJONews@aol.com to subscribe.


It's been fun and informative! Thank you Carolyn, for visiting with us this week.

Karen

Sunday

What is Email Marketing, Anyway?

Simply put: Email Marketing is a means of getting the email addresses from potential customers and using those addresses to inform them of what you're offering. It is also what I am currently researching.

Can you do it yourself?

Well, if you have a new business or one that doesn't have too many subscribers, and you don't expect your business to boom overnight, I'd say, yes.

Most email marketing services charge a monthly fee to maintain this service, you need to factor that into the equation. My suggestion here is to create a spreadsheet of what your monthly expenses are in regard to your business, along with your monthly income from that business.

Tip: The services that lure you in offering free opt-in service make it so difficult for you to input all your information and install the opt-in box that you get disgusted and opt for their paid service just to get the support. Please, stay clear of these services.

While, the reputable email marketing services do offer management services for your subscribers, unless you have too many subscribers to handle, you should be able to handle the basics yourself. You can always join a service later on when the income from your business warrants it.

How do I get subscribers?

Ah, the $1,000,000 question. The key to this is to provide quality and needed information that a reader will want more of. Have a contact box and ask them to subscribe to your informational emails or newsletter. It's your efforts, quality articles, and marketing skills that will entice your reader to provide a name and email address. And, don't forget to utilize article writing for ezines to bring traffic back to your site.

My next marketing article will explain what to do with those email addresses.

See you in blog world,
Karen

Wednesday

EARTH DAY - Some Energy Saving Tips


It's here and in line with this important day here is some environmental information from Get Energy Active:

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Your “carbon footprint” refers to the approximate amount of greenhouse gases produced—either directly or indirectly—as a result of your lifestyle. Everything from your home energy usage to the distance of your daily commute to the type of food that you eat affects the size of your carbon footprint.

Use Electricity Wisely

Attic

• Door or Hatch
Weather-strip or insulate your attic door or hatch to prevent air from escaping from the top of your house.
• Insulation
Check current insulation levels, and properly insulate a new or existing home. Insulate ceilings, walls, and floors over unconditioned crawl spaces.
• Vents
Attics must be ventilated to relieve heat buildup caused by the sun. If necessary, improve attic airflow by adding or enlarging vents.

Basement

• Heating Unit
As much as half of your household energy use goes to heating and cooling. Replacing older equipment with more efficient equipment will help reduce your carbon footprint and your energy costs.

Tune up your heating system in the fall to make sure that it will operate at maximum efficiency during the cold winter.

• Air Conditioning Unit

Check and clean or replace air filters every month. Clean the outside condenser coil once a year.

Schedule periodic maintenance of cooling equipment by a licensed service representative. A "tune up" in the spring will help the air conditioner run at maximum efficiency during the hot weather.

• Water Heater
Decrease your carbon footprint and reduce your water heating bill by 10 percent by lowering the water heater temperature from 140°F to 120F°. (Keep the temperature at 140°F if you use an older dishwasher without a temperature booster.)

Once a year, drain a bucket of water from the bottom of the water heater tank. This gets rid of sediment, which can waste energy by "blocking" the water in the tank from the heating element.

Locate water heaters as close to the points of hot water usage as possible. The longer the supply pipe, the more heat thatis lost.

Insulate your hot water supply pipes to reduce heat loss. (Hardware stores sell pipe insulation kits.) For older water heaters, consider buying a water heater insulation kit, which reduces the amount of heat lost through the walls of the tank.

Bathroom

• Sink
To conserve water, use sink stoppers instead of letting water run while shaving.

• Vanity Lights
Bathroom vanity lights are one of the most used fixtures in the average home. Use energy-efficient lighting, which can provide bright, warm light while using less energy and generating less heat than standard bulbs.

• Shower
Taking an 8-minute shower every day can indirectly create as much as 1,368 pounds of CO2 each year. By reducing your shower time to 6 minutes, you can eliminate 342 pounds of CO2 from your annual total.

Install a new low-flow shower head to help you conserve water and save energy—and save more than $75 each year on energy costs.

• Toilet
A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day. Be sure to repair all toilet and faucet leaks promptly.

• Vent Fan
An ENERGY STAR® qualified ventilation fan will control moisture in the air while saving energy. These fans are much quieter than standard models. Fans with efficient lighting and fan motors use 65 percent less energy on average than standard models, saving $120 in electricity costs over the life of the fan.

Bedroom

• Humidifier
In the winter, the air is normally dry inside your house, which is a disadvantage because people typically require a higher temperature to be comfortable than they would in a humid environment. Therefore, efficient humidifiers are a good investment for energy conservation.

• Lighting
Provide task lighting over desks, tool benches, etc., so that activities can be carried on without illuminating entire rooms. Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient lighting.

• Outlets
Unplug any battery chargers or power adapters when electronics are fully charged or disconnected from the charger.

• Cordless Phone
ENERGY STAR® qualified cordless phones that feature switch-mode power supplies and "smart" chargers will reduce your carbon footprint and add to your energy savings.

Dining Room

• Light Switch
Remember to always turn off the lights when leaving a room. Turning off just one 60-watt incandescent bulb that would otherwise be on for eight hours a day can save about $15 per year.

• Thermostat
Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust your home's temperature when you're away or sleeping.

• Heating
Locate the heating thermostat on an inside wall and away from windows and doors. Cold drafts will cause the thermostat to keep the system running even when the rest of the house is warm enough. Set the thermostat as low as comfort permits. Each degree over 68° F can add 2-3 percent to the amount of energy needed for heating.

• Air conditioner
Set your thermostat to 78° F, or as high as comfort permits. When the weather is mild, turn off the AC and open the windows.

• Vents
Close heating vents and radiator valves in unused rooms. Make sure that drapes, plants, or furniture do not block registers for supply or return air.

Exterior

• Front Door
Install storm doors at all entrances of the house.

Weather-strip and caulk around all entrance doors and windows to limit air leaks that could account for 15-30 percent of heating and cooling energy requirements.

• Garage
Keep the overhead door of an attached garage closed to block cold winds from infiltrating the connecting door between the house and garage.

• Outdoor Lights
Install photoelectric controls or timers to make sure that outdoor lighting is turned off during the day. If using energy-efficient light bulbs, make sure that they are compatible with the controls.

• Porch Light
Install energy-efficient lighting in the front porch light—one of the most-used lighting fixtures in a home. If your porch light is connected to a timer or photocell, make sure the new light bulbs are compatible with the controls.

• Car
A vehicle emits 12,100 pounds of CO2per year on average. You can reduce your carbon footprint by combining trips and using mass transit, and walking or biking when possible. Also keep your car well-maintained to maximize its fuel efficiency, safety, and reliability.Schedule regular tune-ups, change the oil and filter every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, and make sure the tires are properly inflated.

Vehicles in the United States average 231 miles per week. There are many ways to reduce your weekly mileage and shrink your carbon footprint. Try carpooling, using public transportation, and combining errands.

To have a big impact, consider purchasing a hybrid car. A 4-cylinder hybrid with automatic transmission and 2-wheel drive emits nearly 40 percent less CO2 per mile than a sports utility vehicle with automatic transmission, an 8-cylinder gasoline engine, and 2-wheel drive.

• Windows
Double-glazed windows (two panes of glass separated by a sealed air space) cut heat transfer by 40-50 percent. In extremely cold regions, triple glazing could be economically justified.

Single-glazed windows should have storm windows. A wood or metal frame storm window provides a second thickness of glass and a layer of still air that reduces heat transmission markedly.

Kitchen

• Dishwasher
Appliances account for as much as 20 percent of your energy bill. Newer, more efficient models save energy and water. If replacing your dishwasher, an ENERGY STAR® model can reduce your carbon footprint and save more than $25 a year in energy costs.

• Sink
To conserve water, repair any leaky faucets promptly. Hot water leaking at a rate of one drip per second can waste up to 1,661 gallons of water in one year—and wastes up to $35 in electricity or natural gas.

• Refrigerator/Freezer
If your current refrigerator was made before 1993, it uses twice as much energy as an ENERGY STAR® model. A 1992 top-freezer model with 19-21 cubic feet indirectly emits as much as 754 pounds of CO2per year. A 2002 side-by-side model with 19-21 cubic feet indirectly emits as much as 442 pounds of CO2per year.

Replacing an older model with a new ENERGY STAR® model can eliminate hundreds of pounds of CO2each year and save $45-$65 per year on your electric bills.

Other tips:
Keep your refrigerator at 37°- 40°F and your freezer at 5°F.

Vacuum the condenser coils (underneath or behind the unit) every three months.

Check the condition of door gaskets by placing a dollar bill against the frame and closing the door. If the bill can be pulled out with a very gentle tug, the door should be adjusted or the gasket replaced.

Do not put uncovered liquids in the refrigerator. The liquids give off vapors that add to the compressor workload.

• Microwave
Use your microwave oven whenever possible. It draws less than half the power of its conventional oven counterpart and cooks for a much shorter amount of time.

• Range/Oven
Only use pots and pans with flat bottoms on the stove. Use the right-sized pot on stove burners. A six-inch pot on an eight-inch burner wastes more than 40 percent of the burner's heat.

Develop the habit of "lids-on" cooking to permit lower temperature settings. Keep reflector pans beneath stovetop heating elements bright and clean.

Begin cooking on highest heat until liquid begins to boil. Then lower the heat control settings and allow food to simmer until fully cooked.

Cook as much of the meal in the oven at one time as possible. Variations of 25°F still produce good results and save energy.

Rearrange oven shelves before turning your oven on—and don't peek at food in the oven! Every time you open the oven door, 25° to 50°F is lost.

• Trash
Recycle your newspapers, plastic and glass containers, and paper products. By cutting the amount of waste you produce in half, and doubling the amount of recycling in your household, you can save about 1,200 pounds of CO2per year.

Laundry Room

• Clothes Dryer
Using your dryer 10 times a week indirectly creates more than 800 pounds of CO2. Use the moisture sensor option so that the dryer turns off automatically when clothes are dry. This can help you reduce indirect dryer CO2 emissions by 15 percent. Or, dry your clothes on a clothesline outside.

• Clothes Washer
Follow detergent instructions carefully. Adding too much detergent actually hampers effective washing action and may require more energy in the form of extra rinses.

Wash only full loads of laundry. Wash clothes in cold water. Sort laundry and schedule washes so that a complete job can be done with a few cycles of the machine carrying its full capacity, rather than a greater number of cycles with light loads.

If you're looking to buy a new washing machine, consider using a front-loading or horizontal axis machine. These new units use 30 percent less water and 50 percent less energy to make hot water and wash clothes than regular washing machines.

Living Room

• Ceiling Fan
In the winter: If your ceiling fan has a switch that allows you to reverse the motor, you can operate the fan at a low speed in the opposite direction. This produces a gentle updraft, forcing warm air near the ceiling down into the living space.

In the summer: Run the blades counter-clockwise (downward) to cool more efficiently. Turning up the thermostat by just two degrees and using your ceiling fan can lower AC costs by up to 4-6 percent over the course of the cooling season. Don't forget to turn the ceiling fan off when you leave the room.

• Fireplace
Make sure your fireplace has tightly fitting dampers that can be closed when the fireplace is not in use. Seal hidden air leaks in your chimney. If you have a gas fireplace, turn off the pilot light when not in use.

• Lamps
Put lamps in corners of rooms where they can reflect light from two wall surfaces instead of one. Use compact fluorescent bulbs in fixtures that are on for more than two hours a day. Compact fluorescent bulbs use up to 75 percent less electricity. They also last about 10 times longer.

• Entertainment Center
The average home uses 25 electronic products, accounting for up to 15 percent of household electricity use. TVs, DVD players, video games, and cable boxes can create more than 1,600 pounds of CO2each year. Turning these products off when they're not being used can save 240 pounds of CO2.

Better still, switching to electronic equipment with the ENERGY STAR® label will help save additional energy even when the device is turned off.

• Windows
In warm weather, close your blinds and curtains during the hottest part of the day. During cold weather, keep curtains open during the daylight hours to take advantage of the sun's warmth.

Office

• Computer and Monitor
Computers indirectly create nearly 500 pounds of CO2 per year. Turning them off when not in use will save 43 pounds.

Do not use a screen saver when your computer monitor is active. Instead, let it switch to sleep mode or turn the monitor off.

• Printer, Fax, Copier
Save energy and space with a multi-function device that combines several capabilities—such as print, fax, copy, and scan. Enable power management features for additional savings. Turn off machines when not in use.

Set office equipment to automatically switch to sleep mode. This will help equipment to save energy, to run cooler, and to last longer.

When purchasing new home office products, look for the ENERGY STAR® label to save energy.

• Power Strip
Use a power strip as a central "turn off" point when you are finished using equipment. This will help eliminate the standby power consumption used by office equipment even when it is turned off.

I know it's long, but hey, it's our planet!

"You must be the change you want to see in the world." (M. Gandhi)

Karen

Tuesday

How to Improve Your Website 3

I’m back with Part 3 of How to Improve Your Website. I know this was suppose to be posted a week or so ago, but we’ve been implementing new and improved strategies at VBT – Writers on the Move and time just slipped away.

Since your ultimate goal is to sell your product or service I’ll start with the Call to Action. Every page of your website should have a call to action with ‘buy now’ buttons. And, when it comes to ‘buy now’ buttons, classy beats flashy every time. These buttons should be at the top and left of your pages since readers usually start reading there. Remember, you don’t have to hit your readers over the head; you need to draw them in by providing valuable information, something they need or want. You can also draw in readers by providing freebees, possibly an ebook. And, don’t forget, good action colors are red, orange and yellow.

Another aspect of your site is imagery. I know in the first post of this series I mentioned the importance of creating a desired affect, well the use of 3D imagery should be included. In the myriad of research and studies that are done, it’s been determined that a 3D image is more effective for selling than flat imagery. To see if there was any validity to this determination, I did my own test. I have been promoting my book with a flat image, but after learning about this new information I took a picture of my book with it standing up and open. Well, this new data is correct; the 3D image is much more appealing than the flat image. So, when able use 3D imagery.

Now that you’ve improved your site, how do you bring traffic to it? One marketing strategy is viral marketing. Viral marketing is an internet term taken from the old ‘word of mouth’ strategy. With the computer age, the ‘word of mouth’ term needed to take on a global quality and be more descriptive of the results it can afford, thus viral marketing.

So, how does viral marketing work. This is very simple: I have a product or offer a service that others need or want. I write informative articles on the topic and offer freebees – this peaks my readers’ interest. They think it’s worthwhile and tell their friends via the internet. Their friends tell their friends and so on and so forth. Allowing reprint permission on my articles and including an Email a Friend button on my posts this information can spread like wild fire! With the click of a button my articles can travel the world. This is what makes viral marketing so effective.

An excellent example of viral marketing in action is Penny Sansevieri’s articles. I’m a huge fan of Penny’s marketing articles. She is the creator of Author Marketing Experts. When I read one of Penny’s articles I usually find it so informative I want to pass it on to the readers on my sites. This is viral marketing. By allowing reprint permission Penny not only reaches me, she reaches my readers and their readers (if they chose to reprint it also). This ultimately leads visitors seeking the kind of information Penny is providing back to her site. So, she’s not just getting visitors, she’s getting visitors who are interested in her products and services.

This type of viral marketing is just one of many. Other forms of viral marketing can be video clips, flash games, ebooks and so on. The amount of marketing information available seems to be unending. The time needed to read it all seems to be unending also. I’ll periodically provide posts sorting some of this information out.

See you in blog world,
Karen Cioffi

Monday

Suzanne Lieurance on Writing Instructor vs Writing Coach

Suzanne Lieurance wrote an informative article about coaching and instructing. Being both an instructor and a coach she has inside knowledge of what the difference is between the two. Well, let me have Suzanne explain the rest:

Writing Instructor vs. Writing Coach - Which Do You Really Need?
by Suzanne Lieurance

Since I'm both a writing instructor and a writing coach, people are always asking me, "What's the difference between a writing instructor and a writing coach?" Here's what I tell them. A writing instructor is someone who teaches a person (or persons) HOW to write. A writing instructor can teach various types of writing such as technical writing, writing for children, resume writing, writing screenplays, etc. Generally, a writing instructor or teacher is needed when someone wants to learn the craft of writing in one genre or another.

A writing coach can also teach the mechanics, or the "how-to" of writing, from time to time. But generally, a writing coach works with a person (or persons) who knows the mechanics of the type of writing he wants to write, but he has trouble staying on track. The writing coach's client needs help with specific strategies to develop a focus for his writing (and perhaps even for his writing career) and then comes to the coach seeking additional help maintaining that focus.

Both writing instructors and writing coaches can help motivate the writing student or client. But a writing instructor develops the focus for the instruction he or she is presenting to the student(s), while, with a writing coach, the client is directly or indirectly responsible for setting the focus of each coaching session.

Think of it this way. If you know the kind of writing you would like to do, but you don't have the skills, education, and training required for this type of writing, then you probably need a writing teacher or instructor. On the other hand, if you HAVE taken courses, workshops, and other training and are skilled at the type of writing you wish to pursue, yet you can't seem to stay motivated or focused long enough to complete that book you've always wanted to write, or you can't figure out how to use your skills to develop a full-time writing career, then you probably need a coach.

For more helpful tips for writers, visit www.workingwriterscoach.com and sign up for the mailing list. When you do, you'll receive a free ebook for writers, plus the weekly newsletter, Build Your Business Write with tips to help you build your freelance writing career.


Thank you for being my guest, Suzanne. I enjoyed hosting you.
And, to our visitors, please let us know how you enjoyed the article.

See you in blog world,
Karen Cioffi

Wednesday

How to Improve Your Website 2

Going over my notes from Jennifer Thompson’s Web Site Wow I and II teleclasses and surfing the web, I realize content and the specific text you use is another important tool in creating an attention grabbing and user friendly site. Readers want information fast.

As mentioned in the previous article, you have less than a second to engage a reader. They don’t want to have to search through an article to determine if it will be useful to them – your title and first line or two needs to grab their attention or they’ll be gone.

This is where your elevator pitch comes in. You have 30 seconds or less to inform your reader why they should stay put and continue reading. With thousands upon thousands of sites offering products, services and information, you need to quickly grab the reader's interest. You need to inform them that your product, service or information is the one they must have.

Cliff Ennico (Entrepreneur.com, dated January 20, 2003) sums up the elevator pitch in one sentence, “It's the verbal equivalent of your business card, but it needs to say much, much more, and it needs to say it very quickly.”

I know this is true from personal experience. When I visit a site that is offering a product or service I’m looking for, if they don’t hook me within a few seconds, I’m gone. What I mean by ‘hook’ is I need to know within the fist few sentences that they are providing what I want or need. If the elevator pitch is effective, I’m hooked. So when thinking of an elevator pitch instead of applying the saying short and sweet, go for short and jammed packed.

Another effective tool to use to hold your readers' attention is to create powerful titles with a power packed first paragraph. Then use Read More buttons so your reader can view a number of posts at one time – these are called shorts. This allows the reader to skim over the titles and pick the ones they find the most interesting. If your site has the entire article visible the reader may not brother scrolling down to find other titles that are of interest. Always remember: readers want information fast.

Also, make sure your content is useful. This will keep your visitors coming back. You can also include an Email to Friend button on your site. Visitors who find your article or content helpful can share it with others with the click of a button.

In addition, it’s important to make sure the information you provide is current – you need to check for dead links. Do an online search for services or software that can do this.

My next article, How to Improve Your Website 3, will discuss Viral Marketing, Sale Buttons, 3D Images, and more.

See you in blog world,
Karen

Friday

How to Improve Your Website

I attended two great teleclasses hosted by Jennifer Thompson of Web Site Wow and sponsored by Author Marketing Experts.

Jennifer discussed the importance in choosing colors, font, imagery, and so much more.

Your primary purpose for having a website is to promote your book/s, work, or product/s. You want a site that will motivate visitors to purchase what you have to offer.

Important Tips:

1. You have less than a second to engage a reader.

2. Surfers read in a D format starting at the upper left hand corner. You should have an ACTION CALL at the starting point.

3. Keep your site current.

4. Have a link to your blog on your website.

Tools you can use to create a great site:

Colors are a key component in having an engaging site. Action colors are yellow, red and orange. Blue evokes trust and green is soothing. Depending on what you are selling, you should use these colors accordingly.

Colors should also be web safe. Colors are like fonts, not all computers will read it the way it appears on your computer. If you want to make sure your ‘soft green’ background looks the same on every computer you need to use web safe colors. Netscape has a fixed color palette that you can use. Go to Techbomb to view these colors.


Imagery is another tool that can be used to create a desired affect. For example, I have a children’s bedtime picture book. I could use a picture of me holding my grandson while reading the book to him. Include pictures that create the image you are conveying. This will help sell your work or product.

Fonts need to be web safe as I mentioned above while discussing colors. It would be a waste of time if you create an enticing website only to find the font you’ve used isn’t readable on some visitors’ computers. A few web safe fonts are: Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, Century Gothic, and Cambria.

Well, that’s enough for now. I’ll post more of what I learned from Jennifer’s teleclass and surfing the web in a day or two.

You can check out Jennifer Thompson’s site at: Monkey C Media.

See you in blog world,
Karen

You Have to See the Daffodils

This is a story posted by April Robins on Facebook. It is truly inspiring and I wanted to share it with you. I love the message: don't fret about yesterday, make today count - every little step brings you toward your goal. The idea is to be persistent, even if it's one little step at a time. While it's important to work toward your goals, remember to feel joy and satisfaction in the process of getting there. Try to see the vision of what each little bulb will eventually become if you persist in your efforts.

You Have to See the Daffodils

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say,
"Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over."
I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead
"I will come next Tuesday",
I promised a little reluctantly on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy.
Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there.
When I finally walked into my daughter Carolyn's
house I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children.
I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren.

I told my daughter, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn!
The road is invisible in these clouds and fog, and
there is nothing in the world except you and my grandchildren
that I want to see right now. I don't want to drive another inch!"

My daughter smiled calmly and said,
"We drive in this weather all the time, mother."

"Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears,
and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her.

"But first we're going to see the daffodils.
It's just a few blocks," Carolyn said. "I'll drive. I'm used to this."

"Carolyn," I said sternly,

"It's all right, Mother, I promise.
You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."

So we went!
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road
and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church,
I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read,

"Daffodil Garden ---->"

We got out of the car, each of us took a child's hand,
and I followed Carolyn down the path.
Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped.
Before me lay the most glorious sight.
It looked as though someone had taken
a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak
and its surrounding slopes.

The flowers were planted in majestic,
swirling patterns, great ribbons
and swaths of deep orange,
creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink,
and saffron and butter yellow.
Each different-colored variety was planted
in large groups so that it swirled
and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue.

There were five acres of flowers!

"Who did this?" I asked Carolyn.
"Just one woman," Carolyn answered.
"She lives on the property. That's her home."
Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house,
small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory.

We walked up to the house.
On the patio, we saw a poster.

"Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking"
was the headline.

The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read.

The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain."

The third answer was, "Began in 1958."

For me, that moment was a life-changing experience.
I thought of this woman whom I had never met,
who, more than forty years before, had begun,
one bulb at a time, to bring her vision
of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop.

Planting one bulb at a time, year after year,
this unknown woman had forever changed
the world in which she lived.
One day at a time, she had created something
of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught me
is one of the greatest principles of celebration.
That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time.

"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn.
"What might I have accomplished
if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five
or forty years ago and had worked away at it
'one bulb at a time' through all those years?

"Just think what I might have been able to achieve!"

My daughter summed up the message of the day
in her usual direct way.

"Start tomorrow," she said.

She was right.
It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays.
The way to make learning a lesson of celebration
instead of a cause for regret is to only ask,

"How can I put this to use today?"

The Daffodil Principle.

Stop waiting.....
Until your car or home is paid off
Until you get a new car or home
Until your kids leave the house
Until you go back to school
Until you finish school
Until you clean the house
Until you organize the garage
Until you clean off your desk
Until you lose 10 lbs.
Until you gain 10 lbs.
Until you get married
Until you get a divorce
Until you have kids
Until the kids go to school
Until you retire
Until summer
Until spring
Until winter
Until fall
Until you die...

There is no better time than right now to be happy.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
So work like you don't need money.
Love like you've never been hurt,
and, Dance like no one's watching.

If you want to brighten someone's day,
pass this on to someone special (like I did to you!)

Wishing you a beautiful, daffodil day!
Don't be afraid that your life will end,
be afraid that it will never begin.

- Author unknown

Thursday

Writing for Free – A Means to an End

I have come to the conclusion that the most time consuming aspect of writing is keeping up with all the useful information that is made available through everywhere from business sites to personal blogs. It seems everyone is offering free information. I have already spent entire days just surfing through sites and reaming ideas, strategies, tips, and so on. It really is endless.

In the writing world everyone tries to and actually needs to keep their work and names visible. Providing information is a primary means of accomplishing this. New blogs are popping up everyday with free tips and advice. The blog has become a great vehicle to bring you to the reader. It is an excellent way to show readers what you have to offer. The information you provide will hopefully not only draw readers, but keep them coming back for more. Using my own blog as an example, I found that if I don’t offer beneficial information along with the hosting blogs I do, I lose followers.

Another vehicle to bring you to the reader is the free online magazines. This is where you can write and have your articles published – you don’t get paid, but you do get published. While it does not have the credibility of paying markets, it is a great way to hone your craft and be visible.

One more source of visibility is writing guest blogs or articles for other blogs or sites. Often the writers are looking for new and fresh content for their sites or newsletters. If the offer arises take advantage of it, or ask bloggers if they would be interested in a guest blog from you.

Every marketing teleseminar and workshop I have been to encourages writers to offer information through blogs or free online magazines. According to marketing experts the name of the game is visibility. Free information draws readers. I can confirm that this is true because I make it a point to attend all the free teleseminars and teleclasses I can. The businesses that offer this free information want to draw you there so they can sell you their services. This is understandable. It is a win-win situation; they acquire some new customers and you, whether you take advantage of their services or not, receive valuable information. But, to what extend should a writer offer their services for free?

While taking this path of visibility it’s important to remember that submitting to free ezines or guest blogging is not just a lack of financial gain, it’s the time loss incurred while preparing these articles and blogs. The best strategy is to start out offering free tips and articles until you can provide your own expert information and advice. It’s important to remember that this free information will draw readers and show them that your posts and articles are a source of useful data. Once you feel comfortable enough that the information you are providing is of substantial value you can offer it in the form of ebooks, newsletters, teleseminars or other means for a fee.

You should be aware that even when you reach this point, it’s still a good idea to publish articles in the free ezines for continued visibility and as a means of drawing new readers/customers to your sites and services. And, don’t forget that while you’re providing free information you can also be submitting articles to paying markets.

Wednesday

Backup, Backup, Backup

It's really crazy. I wrote an article the other night about submitting articles to free magazines and I can't find it. I've been having a lot of trouble with my computer lately. I'm hoping I saved it on my laptop which is trouble free...so far.

My troubles started with Microsoft Outlook. From the beginning if I tried to use it my computer hung and I had to reboot. Then my computer ate my Excel program - it literally just disappeared. After that MS Word started losing my files or saved them corrupted. I lost a 1200 word ms and several other research documents that I worked on for hours and hours and hours.

Thinking it might be the computer, I went out and got two zip drives. When working on my regular computer I only saved to the zip drive. Not wanting to lose any more files I did a backup of the zip I used (Zip A) to the second zip (B). Thank goodness, because I accidentally hit zip A while it was in my laptop and it broke. Talk about Murphy's Law.

I also thought maybe something happened to the Microsoft program so I had my husband delete it from my computer and he downloaded Open Office for me. I still had problems with files becoming corrupt or disappearing. Then, I lost Works Spreadsheet program - just disappeared. Is it Gremlins?

So, now I only use my regular computer for things I don't have to save. I also got a third zip drive (C) that I used to backup zip B. In addition to this, I'm going to get two more zips. One to backup (C) and another to keep just in case.

What's the moral to the story? Make sure you always back up your work! And, in cases like mine, backup your backup.

Karen

Monday

Writers and Responsibility

Within the last week I came across two local incidents and the papers' articles about them. They made me wonder what's happening to the world of writing, specifically writing and news.

The first incident occurred last week. A family in a borough of New York City were the victims of a home invasion. The family has 4 children who were fortunately asleep while the invasion took place. The intruders came to the door as police officers and once the door was opened, they pushed their way in. They bound the husband and wife and ransacked the house. While they were gathering what they wanted they repeatedly threatened to kill the family. The couple were left alone at times and the woman managed to untie herself and untied her husband. They were smart enough not to let the intruders know. When the intruders finally left, the husband chased them and called the police. The intruders were captured. This, you would think, is an amazing end to the story, but it isn't the end. The papers reported the incident and listed every article and it's value that was taken. This family happens to be well to do and the items and cash taken were substantial. Was this necessary? This family now has to worry about other criminals knowing exactly what they have in their home and where they live. In my opinion, the papers have put this family's safety in jeopardy. Shouldn't writers have a responsibility to ensure they are not the cause of further harm to the victims?

The second incident occurred a couple of days ago in my neighborhood. A 9-year-old boy was struck by a truck while running across a very large and busy intersection. While the story is graphic and disturbing, the pictures are worse. The front page shows the boy's body lying on the street in a body bag. The picture on the third page is of a man wiping the blood off the street with the boy's body in view. Are graphic words and especially graphic pictures of a 9-year-old's body and blood necessary to convey the story? The boy's friends and classmates will easily see this story and the pictures. And, I can't imagine how the family would feel if they see the paper – hopefully they never will. Again, shouldn't writers have a responsibility to ensure they are not the cause of further harm to the victims?

So, what's the reason reporters and photographers need to be so graphic and use words and pictures that are disturbing to the point of at times being sickening? I know papers are in the business of selling and it seems more and more it's the shock and gore effect that sells. The question is are the reporters leading readers down this path, or are the readers demanding it? Whichever is the case it is creating a world of desensitized people who need more and more horror and gore to get a reaction. When will it be enough? I'm not saying that writers shouldn't write the news; I'm saying there are many ways to tell a story and maybe the shock and gore should be replaced by compassionate and responsible news writing and reporting.

Just needed to vent.

Karen