Dangers of Facebook, Google and other Social Networks

Usually, I reserve Friday's for reviews, links, and tips, but today I want to share some important information.

I watched a TV show last week featuring Google; it was very enlightening and frightening. The presenter exposed some of the security risks associated with this mega company. I'm not sure many people are aware that any information Google acquires from your purchases, searches, and other activities you do through them, is saved and easily retrievable for 18 months. There after, it's more difficult to get a hold of, but it can be done.

In one aspect, it's great that if a terrorist or troubled individual searched for how to build a bomb, or get their hands on weapons, authorities have the ability to track the information down., But, as writers, we do research on a number of topics. Even, college students are required to do research on topics they have no interest in or are actually involved in. And, what about those who make purchases they think are private?

But, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Today, I read an article in Yahoo News about Facebook and security options. The personal information you readily share with your friends can easily be hacked either by your account, or a friend's account, being hacked, or by bugs. There have been cases of robberies based on users sharing their vacation plans, and even identity theft because of all the personal information we put out there for ALL to see.

From the onset of these social networking entities, I saw the potential for trouble. How many sites want your birth date, even ning sites ask for it? I recently got a e-birthday-card from a site. For a moment I wondered why . . . then I realized I never put my real birth date on the internet. My ages range from the 20s to 70s online. How many sites request your address?

So, bottom line, social networkers beware of the information you make available to potential hackers, thieves, and identity thieves. It can be as simple as your pet's name or your maiden name for the unsavory element to make use of it.

To read the article from Yahoo News and get more information go to:


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Aim for Writing Success

Writing success can mean different things to different writers. Some writers may simply want to get a book or article published; others may want to be on the New York Times Best Sellers List; still others may want to make a living writing; and there are those who may be seeking wealth and fame. The key here is to dig down and really know what your perception of writing success is.

Once you are certain what you are aiming for, take the necessary steps to become the writing success you dream of. Sounds easy, right? Well, we all know it’s not, if it were, there would be no struggling writers.

The first problem we seem to run into is actually realizing how we perceive success, or what we want from our writing efforts. According to Jack Canfield, co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, the number one reason for being stuck and not realizing your potential or goals is the lack of clarity.

Step One: You Must Define Your Goals and Your Perception of Success

It’s not sufficient to state you want to be a published writer; you need to proclaim the specifics. You want to be a self-help nonfiction author of published books and magazine articles earning an income of $100,000 per year. You can even get much more specific than that—the more specific your goals and intentions are the more likely you will attain them.

Step Two: Prepare a Plan

When you finally have a break through and know exactly what you want from your writing efforts, you need to prepare a detailed plan. Your plan, just like your goals, needs to be very specific. Think of a recipe: You plan on baking a cake, but you’ll need more than just the ingredients, you’ll need the exact amount of each ingredient, the proper procedure for mixing them together, the baking temperature, how long to bake it, how long to cool it before removing it from the pan . . . you get the idea.

Now you’re on your way . . . you have specific goals . . . a detailed plan . . . but . . . you’re still not achieving success.

Step Three: Take Action

Think of the first two steps as the foundation of your house. To move forward toward success, you need to build the house. This takes action; it actually takes more than just action, it takes ongoing action and perseverance to carry you through to completion.

Step Four: Projection

You have the other steps down pat, now picture yourself attaining your goals. According to motivational speakers, you will have a much greater chance of making it happen by projecting success. This step encompasses a number of strategies such as envisioning, projection, projection boards, and affirmations.

Take aim . . . shoot.


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Check it out for yourself: Make Money Writing



Determination, Focus, and Perseverance

I’m a huge fan of positive thinking and projection. I believe our mind has a great influence over our well being and the direction our life can take. Granted, it’s not always easy to harness that influence, but there is enough content out there, including The Secret, to at least strive to think positive and project.

For example, Jack Canfield and co-creator Mark Victor Hansen, of Chicken Soup for the Soul, were rejected 144 times from publishers. Finally, in 1993, their book was accepted. Since they were in debt and couldn’t afford a publicist, they did their own promotion. In 1995, they won the Abby Award and the Southern California Publicist Award.

In a teleconference I attended with Jack Canfield as the speaker, he said the co-authors created vision boards of what they wanted. They even took a copy of the New York Times Best Selling Page, whited out the #1 spot, and replaced it with Chicken Soup for the Soul. They put copies of it everywhere, even in the toilet. They envisioned and projected success. The rest is history.

On a much smaller scale, my daughter and co-author of Day’s End Lullaby, Robyn, practices the philosophy of The Secret. For ten years she’s dreamed of being in the audience of the Oprah show. She actually got tickets twice, but for one reason or another, she was unable to attend. But, it didn’t stop her, she persevered and kept trying. Well, the weekend of May 8th, Oprah had her Live Your Best Life weekend in New York City. Robyn got a ticket for the weekend event and ended up being photographed. Her photo is now on Oprah’s website. In addition, she was about four feet from Oprah at one of the events, while she took a picture. This may not mean much to some, but for a young woman who has dreamed of being in the same room as Oprah, it’s a big . . . no HUGE deal. You can check it out at (she’s the one on the right, her friend Christine is on the left):

So, what has this to do with you and me as writers . . . plenty . . . just about every writer has heard the adage, it’s not necessarily the best writers who succeed, it’s the writers who persevere. Stay determined and focused on your writing goals. Don’t let rejection stop you . . . persevere.


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson Does it Again with Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers

Title: Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers
Author: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Publisher: Self Publishing
ISBN: 1450507654
Reviewer: Karen Cioffi

What’s more important to a writer than words? Not much . . .  maybe how to put words together properly, using correct grammar, weaving them together to create descriptive or informative content . . . but, we still go back to the foundation of every writer’s manuscript or article . . . words.

Carolyn Howard Johnson’s latest book, Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers, is a  little 55 page book (or e-book) that a writer can refer to over and over and over to find help with some of the most common word trippers.

In the Before You Get Started section of this book, Howard-Johnson explains, “Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers is full of words that are trouble causers. They either sound alike or are spelled similarly. They are not arcane words that you will seldom have an occasion to use. They are not words the writer knows but still mistypes.”

Words such as climactic and climatic used improperly or misspelled can mean a rejection when submitting to the “gatekeepers.” The addition or deletion of that little second “c” makes a huge difference in the meaning of the word.

Or, how about the words: all together / altogether; demur / demure; one in the same / one and the same; and peeked / peaked / piqued. These are just a few of the word trippers added in the Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers.

Listed in an A – Z format, the words chosen for this book are thoroughly explained with the aid of examples. This all makes for an easy to understand and easy to read guide. The author also provides two resource sections at the end of the book: Reading: One Editing Book at a Time, and Other Writers’ Aids.

I happen to be a fan of Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Frugal series and have the Frugal Editor as well as the Frugal Book Promoter. They are a part of my writing and marketing toolkit. The author has done it again with the Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers. She has compiled this much needed booklet as an addendum to a list in the appendix of her book, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success.

I learned a great deal from Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers and will be referring to it often. In fact, it's funny, after reading the Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers I find myself much more aware of silly mistakes I make with words and how a simple little deletion or addition of a letter in a word can make a world of difference. I highly recommend it.

Karen Cioffi Freelance Writer
For Individuals and Businesses


Benefits of Creating an eBook

You know . . . an easy way to turn your knowledge into possible income is to create a booklet or e-book. And, with an e-book, if you use sources such as and, it won’t cost a penny. It’s as easy as putting the pieces of a puzzle together.

But, on the flip side, if you’re thinking of doing B2B (business to business) work, businesses would prefer a booklet to hand out to prospects, clients, or employees.

While booklets have their place, today, I’m going to address e-books because they're such an amazing product and they can be absolutely FREE to create! What else can you create for FREE and SELL for whatever you think it is worth? The only cost is your time and some effort.

All you need to do is open a Word document and start typing away. Get all that expert knowledge you’ve accumulated over the year/s and create your content. Just be sure that your content will actually be of value to your readers and reliable.

Pretty easy so far, right?

Now that your content is set, you can add pictures. If you can believe it, this is free also! Just use clip art or visit sites such as, or Another easy way to do this is to take your own pictures. Download them onto your computer and then upload them into your e-book. If you have a program such as Photoshop Elements you can create all types of variations of one simple photo.

That’s it! Now, it’s time to take your Word doc and upload it to, or other source. You can also use a pdf creator and change your word doc into a pdf file—you have an e-book!

Is that cool!

So, what can you do with that e-book you created . . . well, just about anything!

You can sell it on your site through Paypal or Google checkout, or use a shopping cart service; you can sell it through Lulu or Smashwords; you can offer it as a free gift to entice visitors to sign up for your newsletter. If you’re giving it away as a free gift to subscribers to your site, you can get even more bang for your effort by making it reprint allowable. This is a great way to increase your visibility, create backlinks, and bring traffic back to your site. You can also offer it as a combo with other works you have for sale. And, you will be establishing and promoting your expertise . . . you get the idea.

What? You’re not sure if you can do it on your own? That’s okay, don’t fret.

If you’re a little hesitant about undertaking this task, there is help available at Karen Cioffi Freelance Writer. Whether you’re an author looking for exposure and promotion, or you want to offer a free gift on your site, or want to earn some money with it . . . if you’re a business looking to increase traffic and visibility and sales . . . contact me today.


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Inbound Marketing: New Big Boy on the Block

The new big boy on the marketing block is Inbound Marketing. He used his muscles and pushed the older Traditional Marketing strategy to the side.

Okay, before you readers who do use traditional marketing get riled, I’ll be the first to agree that this strategy of marketing, specifically person-to-person networking geared toward referrals and business, is still alive and well.

But, for the online marketer, inbound marketing is the strategy that leads the race. Searching online is the first choice of people looking for products, services and information.

In case you’re not familiar with what’s involved in inbound and traditional marketing here’s an overview:

Traditional Marketing

We’re all very familiar with traditional marketing. I’m sure most of us have been annoyed at one time or another by the telemarketer, television commercials and infomercials, and radio plugs. There is also the newspaper advertising, and don’t forget the environmentalist’s arch enemy: junk mail.

This form of marketing is considered invasive. You are the target and the marketing companies take broad aim and bombard you with funny, stupid, crazy, confusing, annoying, dumbing down, and once in a while informative commercials and advertisements. These marketing tools go so far as to invade the privacy of your own home.

With traditional marketing, the potential customer is not looking for your product or anything similar. Again, the marketing company is taking a broad aim and spraying as large a target as possible in the hope of snagging a customer.

Inbound Marketing

While traditional marketing slaps you in the face with their promotions, inbound marketing gently taps you on the shoulder through Search Engines.

In fact, the inbound marketer doesn’t really even tap the potential customer—it cleverly uses information or entertainment as a means of drawing traffic to a website or blog.

So, instead of television, newspapers, and junk mail, inbound marketing uses blogs, article marketing, and social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Digg, and Technorati.

In regard to blogging, the inbound marketer provides content that his niche target is looking for. When the target does a Google search to find out how to market a book, the search engines provide a number of places the target can find this information. Depending on your ranking in the particular search engine being used will determine how far up or down on the listing provided your site will be.

One of the key factors in ranking high in the search engines is to use keywords in your title and content. In addition to this, the content must be valuable to the target audience, your title must be representative of the content, and you need to post regularly. Write with an objective and make your content exceptional.

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Informational Videos vs. Articles

Are Videos Worth the Time?

Lately, it seems everyone is providing information through videos. Yes, they’re nice, presentable, and the newest thing to do. I know that personal touch is supposed to be very important--you can put a voice and face to the information being provided. And, in some ways, such as seeing a procedure done visually, they may be beneficial. But, I find them time consuming and for that reason, bothersome.

Everyone gathers a great deal of information online, such as information on writing, marketing, affiliate marketing, and research for articles. Often, we’re in a rush and don’t have time to sit through a 15, 30, or 60 minute video to glean the information we want. So, what do we do? We exit out of the site, thinking we’ll come back when I have more time. But guess what? Nine out of ten times we don’t go back.

Time is a problem for everyone today. We’re bombarded with information, things to do, places to go…and that’s not including work! There just aren’t enough hours in the day, or days in the week. The videos take up time.

Aside from the time element, there are many people who would rather read. While listening to videos, you have to sit with pad and pen…listen intently…then write quickly when you hear information you want to save. Try to be sure not to miss anything because if you do, you have to go back and try to find the spot you need. Also, if you are trying to follow the information in the video, say to create a website, it’s very difficult to view a video while you’re working on a site.

Although, I do realize the personal touch is important, it is much easier to read an article, save it, and then go back to it when you have the time. At that point, you can quickly scan the article and highlight the information that is pertinent. You have it indefinitely at your finger tips and available whenever you need it.

The problem that happens when a strategy takes off (whether beneficial or not) is it’s hard to stop. So, what can be done for those who prefer reading?

Well, that depends on whether the presenter wants to put forth additional effort. If they do, they can also provide the information in an article or PDF document. It’s much easier to follow a step-by-step document than go back and forth through a video. While this will be more work for the presenter it will ensure faithful return visits from readers who don’t have time for videos. uses this strategy for their posts and I am grateful.

Technology is ever advancing, but if it’s at the cost of readership maybe the new trend should be adjusted a bit. If a writer or marketer is interested in having followers from the reading and video arenas, they will go that extra step and cater to both. I’ll be waiting patiently for that new trend to take hold.

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Karen Cioffi
Platform Building with Content Marketing