Capturing the Market: How to Write a White Paper

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Capturing the Market: How to Write a White Paper focuses on preparing a white paper that captures your target market’s attention, along with a few pointers on converting readers into buyers with digital marketing tools.

A compelling white paper presents a problem, then communicates a solution. For example, if your company designs and installs solar systems, cite the less-than-desirable aspects of regular energy usage such as rising costs, hidden fees, and surprise hikes on your electric bill. Then explain how your solar energy company’s products save the reader money, qualifies them for tax breaks, and increases their home’s resale value.

Title. Create a strong, buzz-worthy title that makes a reader curious about what your company offers and entices them to read the article.

Introduction. Briefly state your main point with informative and engaging copy that speaks on a personal level, not to a faceless, generic crowd.

Present background information. Speak from an expert point of view to establish trust. Include case studies, visuals, and charts for increased readability.

Solution. The background and solutions you propose are the most important part of your paper. When customers understand the facts, they make decisions based on those facts.

Call-to-Action. A call-to-action gives the reader the opportunity to take the next step – signup, download, call or buy, and this is where you gather contact information to generate leads.

Furthering your marketing efforts. Create a powerful, loaded-with-benefits message on a landing page specifically tailored for your white paper. Use this landing page link in:

  • Emails to your existing subscribers
  • A blog post
  • On your website as a teaser for “free” information

Social Media. Social media marketing lets you humanize your brand with original content and a genuine voice.

  • Create a video
  • Write a blog post
  • Facebook – 2.4 million pieces of content shared daily
  • Twitter – information shared over 277,000 times
  • Provide information about your company on LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram

White papers are a wonderful way to promote your business via a website, blog, newsletter, or social media. It’s important to remember, however, this paper is your go-to vehicle for converting readers into buyers, so make sure it is well-constructed, organized, addresses your target market’s problems, and offers solutions your company is prepared to provide.

5 Must-Have Content Creation Tools to Keep in Your Bookmarks

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When you’re trying to write on a deadline, the best help you can get are tools that make it easy to write quickly and efficiently, removing any barriers to putting your ideas into words. Here’s 5 online tools that we recommend you use to create, edit and organize your content.

1. Google Docs

Google Docs is portable office suite software you can access from your desktop, laptop, tablet, and even smart phone. It contains a full-featured editor suitable for creating essays, resumes and ebooks, and makes collaboration with co-authors as easy as possible. It also has built-in version control, giving you the ability to view and revert a full history of changes for any document.

2. Hemingway Editor

True to its namesake, the fantastic Hemingway Editor is perfect for those who wish to create strong and clear writing. The goal of this visually-appealing app is to improve your text’s readability and help you craft a bold writing voice that is sure to arrest the reader’s attention.

3. Grammarly

Grammarly is one of the oldest online grammer-checking tools and is both a webapp and a Chrome extension. Upon entering text, this tool will give you on-the-fly grammar advice, highlighting instances of passive voice, overly-complex sentences, and adverb overuse.

4. WriteWell

WriteWell is more than an editor. With WriteWell, you’ll gain access to dozens of templates. It’s also an ideal tool for organizing a research or writing project, allowing you to group multiple texts in a logical manner.

5. Scrivener

Scrivener is designed for long, complicated writing projects. You can use it to group all kinds of documents together for easy reference, including images and video. Where Scrivener shines is in its range of export options, so that after composing, you can easily do the final editing in the word processor of your choice.

Whether writing an essay or a novel, a research paper or a resume, choosing the right tool can make the process a breeze. Try out these tools and see how easy completing your next project becomes.

Hone Your Creative Writing Skills: 8 Key Strategies

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Creative writing is a unique endeavor, and one that offers great rewards and many challenges. Whether you are an amateur creative writer, or a professional with years of experience, there is always room to improve upon your craft. With the 8 key strategies below, you will complement your skills with clever, effective plans of action in order to supercharge your writing.

1. Utilize professional writing software

There are fantastic resources available on the web which can make a writer’s job less laborious. Novel writing software in particular eases the workload for the writer, so they can focus more on the creative aspect. We are fortunate to live in an era where we have these tools at our fingertips. Imagine writing in the time of William Shakespeare, where everything was done by hand, and all research took countless hours. Or even in the most recent decades of Ernest Hemingway, prior to the advent of the internet.

2. Employ the use of beta readers

Beta readers are typically peers and editors who offer a pre-release read through. It is always beneficial to have more sets of eyes on your manuscript or story prior to release. If you are an amateur author, pick a friend or family member who has at least a little interest in reading. One of the worst mistakes you can make is being your own critic. Often times, a writer will read his or her own work, hearing it (in their mind) as they want it to be heard. The objectivity is lost. Beta readers solve that problem, and their valuable feedback will show the creative writer weaknesses and strengths.

3. Write every day

This may seem obvious, but it is a key strategy worth mentioning. Like any other skill, writing takes practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it. The only way to build upon your writing skill is to work at your craft as much as possible, and then some. You need to put in the hours. Whether you establish a nightly routine of five hundred words before bed, or aim higher, the daily regime will set a writing flow within your mind. You will have ideas follow you throughout the day, and chase you when sleep calls (keep a bedside notebook!)

4. Seek criticism, not praise

Constructive criticism is paramount for any creative writer. While praise feels satisfying and is good for building self-confidence, it rarely fosters self-improvement. You need to find your weak points in writing, whether they be plot, character development, dialogue, or the basics of grammar and syntax. The only way to accomplish this is by humbly receiving criticism from readers.

5. Read voraciously in your genre

There is no substitute for reading. Get your hands on as much reading material in your genre as possible, and get down to it. Make it a daily habit. Start low if need be. Aim for ten pages a day, and work your way up. It goes without saying that this should be an enjoyable task!

6. Stay active on social media

Even if you are not active on social media in your personal life, make it a habit for the sake of your writing career. There is never a downside to making connections, and as stated in point 5 above, we are fortunate to have that ease of access today. This is especially true if you are a creative writer in a very particular niche, such as H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmicism, where finding an audience can be a daunting task.

7. Utilize the advice of authors you know and admire

Read Q&A’s from authors you know, respect, enjoy, and admire. They do not have to be famous, best sellers. If their work resonates with you, it would behoove you to hear what they have to say. Many creative writers with experience in their genre can weigh in on the process of writing in general. They can advise on good habits to form, how to build a novel from start to finish, and things for amateur writers to avoid. See what worked for them, and try it yourself.

8. Conquer writer’s block

Every writer, especially creative writers, will face writer’s block at one point or another. Sometimes it is a minor inconvenience, other times it is a hideous beast that needs to be brought down. There are many schools of thought on how to deal with writer’s block. Some experienced writers advise walking away from the keyboard (or pen and paper), and simply taking a break. Others face it head on. Avoid the pitfall of giving up too easily. Sometimes writing through it, even if you are not happy with the work, will clear up the block and allow you to get back into the creative space.

The creative writer has a duty to constantly look for new and unique ways to improve themselves and their abilities. All creative writers have their own voices and styles, but even latent talent needs to be paired with hard work. By utilizing the above steps, you will see your creative writing skills improve over time, and rejoice.

Is Your Blog Effective? Here’s How To Tell

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Did you know that there are more than sixty metrics to consider when determining the effectiveness of your blog? Readership, followers, and location are just the beginning — there are a lot of details to look at. Part of determining success is deciding what your goals are.

Part of determining success is deciding on what your goals are. If you don’t know your goals, you can judge how well you’re doing, or whether you’re achieving what you set out to do. When looking at goals, there are a number of things to keep in mind, such as readership and engagement.

For engagement, consider: how many people comment on your posts? How many share them or write their own posts in response to something you said? And how many of the readers that do comment, return to read and comment future posts? These are good indications of how much influence your blog has. If people just read and then leave without a comment, you probably aren’t making as much of an impact as you want.

If your blog is about promoting your business, how many readers become customers? And how many of those customers return for future purchases? If they keep coming back to your business because of what they read on your blog, then you can deem the blog successful in that endeavour. Additionally, consider how many customers come because readers have told them about your business. Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and can make your blog very successful.

These are just a few indicators of what makes a blog successful. Consider your goals and look at them individually, and you’ll be able to determine if your blog is an effective tool, or if you need to make some changes.

Five special things about the “Costco College Essay” for writers to study

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With a well-written college admissions essay, high school senior Brittany Stinson has earned acceptance to six elite schools: Yale, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Stanford. Posted on the internet, her college essay has rapidly gained popularity. Five unique things about the “Costco College Essay” stand out: vocabulary, voice, action, creativity, and introspection.

Vocabulary.  Word choice is critical in college admissions essays. Stinson not only uses college-level vocabulary, but selects her words with precision. She didn’t throw her churro; she jettisoned the churro. She sprinted rather than ran. In her essay, Costco is not merely “known for” oversized portions; Costco is notorious.

Voice.  The first few paragraphs of Stinson’s essay are written from the perspective of a young child. She selected an unusual voice for a college admissions essay, but also created a memorable personality. The churro-chucking child makes an immediate impression and invites the reader to learn more.

Action.  Stinson’s essay is characterized by strong action verbs. Her minimal use of passive verbs keeps the narrative moving and the reader engaged. Whether in childhood recollections or adult musings, Stinson shows us herself in action: rampaging through Costco, sprinting down the aisles, scaling a mountain of toys, filling a shopping cart, enjoying a hot dog, purchasing a ham, sampling chocolate truffles.

Vocabulary, voice, and action are key elements of all good writing, no matter the purpose or format. Stinson uses the first three elements well, then adds two more elements that are specifically important in college admissions essays – creativity and introspection.

Creativity. The College Board, a non-profit organization that connects students to colleges, offers this tip for crafting the best college essay: “Find a creative angle.” Creativity is the ingredient that will gain the attention of admissions officers. Stinson used the creative technique of linking a trip to Costco to her lifelong quest for knowledge.

Introspection. No college essay is complete without a personal statement.  Rob Franek, writing for The Princeton Review, has this to say about recounting versus reflection, “Anyone can write about how they won the big game or the summer they spent in Rome. When recalling these events, you need to give more than the play-by-play or itinerary. Describe what you learned from the experience and how it changed you.” Stinson expertly transitions from recounting her childhood adventures at Costco to her adult experiences and concludes, “My intense desire to know, to explore beyond the bounds of rational thought; this is what defines meIn essence, I subsist on discovery.”

4 Tips to Start Writing Your Novel

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So you want to write a novel? The only way to see this dream come to life is to commence with the writing. The following tips are a great starting point to begin writing your novel, and will help you see your novel through to its nail-biting conclusion.

1. Begin With Your Character 

  • Every great novel tells the story of a character and the events that take place in his/her life. Make your character flawed and believable. Imagine this character as a real person, and let their journey influence your writing. Allow the character to surprise you and delight you. A flat character will leave your reader’s lacking interest in the character’s story, so make your character a person you would want to meet.

2. Give the Character a Compelling Problem

  • The key to creative writing is bringing a fresh take to a topic that has been written about before. The problem you present to your character has to challenge, torment, and drive them to action. The character must face a conflict in order to grow, so allow your writing to address the conflict in a way that will engage your reader’s, and keep them turning pages to see how the conflict does or does not get resolved.

3. Make Things Happen and Make Them Believable

  • The only way to get your novel to flow is creating a plot that continuously moves. Create scenes that have action, and disperse them between scenes that are a bit more stagnant. Keep your characters busy so the readers maintain their engagement. It is also important to make the story believable. If you choose to write about fantasy, give the back story and explain why the mythical creatures in your novel exist. Force your main character to resolve their own problems, without random help showing up at the end of the book. Readers want to relate to the story you are trying to tell; help them reach this point by telling them an honest and compelling story.

4. Write the Story You Want to Read

  • This is the most important step in beginning your novel. Think about your favorite novel or short story. What about it interests you? How does the language of the book speak to your heart? What genre is it? List out all the things you love and pursue a subject that excites you.

No matter how you begin the process of writing a novel, these 4 tips are the perfect starting point to help you with your outline. The best tip for starting a novel, however, is to sit down, start writing, and don’t stop!

Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Memorable College Admissions Essay

Writing an admissions essay that will stand out is a daunting task. This personal statement has to speak for you when the college application is being reviewed. Most people will write about what they think the college’s admissions board will want to hear and that is where they go wrong. The way to stand out is to create a college level essay that speaks about you without covering a topic that is already overdone. Below are some Dos and Don’ts about the process of writing your personal statement and some topic suggestions.

Don’t: 

  • Tell. When writing your essay, you want to show the reader what your life is like. Don’t just tell, write something detailed and interesting utilizing your own writing style.
  • Write overly technical if that is not your style.
  • Write something just to have it done. Your college admissions essay should grab their attention and make them want to read it.

Do:

  • Present yourself as a real person, not just an anonymous bystander. Make your essay personable and full of your voice.
  • Check spelling and grammar.
  • Use a readable font.
  • Balance the essay with paragraph breaks and consistency.
  • Find your own angle, especially if you think your theme is common.
  • Have someone else proofread it before you send it in. Sometimes another set of eyes will catch the mistakes you might miss.

Topics to Avoid:

Travel, winning, a parent’s divorce — these are ideas that the college admissions board has already seen. While it may be exciting to travel, and you learned a life lesson, the admissions reviewer would rather see what happens in your everyday life. Winning anything — a student election, a championship game, a bet — can make a fun story to tell friends and family, but is best represented in the extracurricular section of your application. If your parent’s are divorced, you manage to become part of a statistical group. Instead of talking about what a hardship it was or how your parents not getting along changed your life, you could mention the result. For example, after the divorce, you may have been forced to find a new home in a one bedroom apartment with your mother and sister which hindered your abilities to sleep and study.

Make your essay your own, be confident in your ability to create, and leave the reader with a good impression. If you find yourself struggling, look to your family and friends for advice and inspiration. Your admissions essay will have a word count limit, encouraging you to be concise but heartfelt. Remember, you are the only you — write your personal statement with that knowledge.