Before Starting Your Job Search, Do Some Research

Before Starting Your Job Search, Do Some Research

It seems like an obvious point – thorough research is an important part of an effective job search. But it’s surprising how many people jump into the hunt for a journalism job after doing little or no research. It’s also pretty ironic, given that journalism is all about reporting – another word for research. Why Do Research? Two reasons. First, solid research can help you decide whether the job you’re thinking about applying for is really one that you want. And second, if it really is the job you want, research can help you land that job. Nothing impresses an employer more than an applicant who knows a lot about the job and the company. Remember, in an interview you don’t need to convince the employer you want a job; what you need to do is convince them you want their job, that you want to work specifically for their company – and to explain why. If you’ve done your […]

Five Ways to Make a Great Impression in a Journalism Job Interview

So you’ve applied for a journalism job or internship, and the editor has called you in for an interview. What can you do to make a great impression and maximize your chances of landing the job? Here are five tips: Dress for Success A student of mine once showed up in my office dressed in jeans and a t-shirt to tell me he was heading to an internship interview. “Oh no you’re not,” I told him, and sent him home to change clothes. Workplace fashions may have gotten more casual in recent years, interview attire hasn’t. Men, this means a suit and tie, and women, a nice (but conservative) dress or outfit. No jeans, no t-shirts. Do your homework Find out as much as you can about the place you’re interviewing. Is it a newspaper that’s looking to beef up its web presence? A website that’s expanding its staff? Find out what they’re looking for, then show them how you […]

What I’ve Learned About Writing

I’ve been reflecting on all the things I’ve learned – from writing articles and blog posts and, more importantly, from comments and messages contributed by all of you. For my last post, I wanted to share some of these lessons, the things that have come to seem most important about the writing life. Humility We all make mistakes, and it takes guts to let other people see them. Don’t be afraid to join a writing group, take a class, or post work on the forum. I was consistently impressed with the people who shared work in the monthly challenges: they understood that getting feedback is more important than any temporary fear or discomfort. It’s a necessary part of becoming a better writer. Writing Is Hard I’m not saying it’s always hard, but if you strive for excellence, there will be times when it is. For instance, it’s hard to revise a novel for the third or fourth (or fifth) time. […]

Your business book

You’re an expert. You know what you’re doing. You’ve copious notes and handouts. You’ve years of experience, and now it’s time to demonstrate your credibility: Show what you know. Becoming an authority Authoring a book or article in your area of expertise is a valid claim to authority. Consultants and service professionals market their businesses by referrals, networking, and speaking engagements. Think about the words author and authority. Effective writing is aimed at a specific readership. Who are you writing for? Think about why people would read your book. You must write clearly for people who are new to your area of expertise. Your readers probably don’t have a lot of time, so make your information quick and easy to access. If something is enjoyable people are more likely to do it. Business writing can be serious without being somber, so make your writing lively, relevant and fun wherever you can. Each book is as unique as its author. Today, […]

Resolution: Make Time to Write

In my mind, this is the most important resolution, the bedrock for everything else, making it the perfect way to close our month on writing resolutions. After all, without carving out time to write, there’s no novel to send to agents, or stories to submit to journals, or rough drafts to offer a writing community. But as we all know, finding time to write is easier said than done. Last year, Teresa R. wrote in asking specifically about time management techniques, ways to make time to write. The most important time management skill for me is the ability to say “no,” though it’s something I have to continually work at. Sometimes I have a hard time separating out what I want to do and what I feel compelled to do. It makes it easy for people to take advantage of my time, so I’ve gotten good at knowing who my real friends are. So “yes” to the rare babysitting request […]

High Stakes Testing

My first few years of teaching, I did not fully realize how much was riding on state mandated testing. I did not understand the game of high stakes testing. I thought they were overvalued, which I still believe to an extent, but I came to realize that test scores, like it or not, reflect how I am perceived to be as a teacher. Although my percentage of students who performed satisfactorily on these tests were within my district’s expectations, I decided to step it up a notch and go beyond that. I decided to go against something I said I would never do, but the results have been well worth. I began to teach towards the test. I still made learning fun, but I developed a plan which I thought would get a much larger percentage of students above the satisfactory mark. The plan that I used is outlined below. With more and more states passing laws moving towards performance […]

Choosing a Creative Writing Program

With so many creative writing programs out there, it can be hard to decide which ones are right for you. A little soul searching will help you narrow the pool, and ensure that you end up at a program that’s right for you. Page one of this article will help you pinpoint your expectations for an MFA program. Page two provides questions to help you discover which programs will best fulfill your expectations. What is it that you hope to get out of the program? If you’re mostly looking for time to write, you may not want to attend a program that would require you to teach. On the other hand, if you’re worried about the degree’s impracticality, the teaching experience will help you find jobs afterward. If you’re interested in editing experience, you might look for a program with ties to a literary journal. Some people go to graduate school looking for a mentor. If that’s the case with […]

Your company’s voice

If your company were a person, what would be its personality? Would it be warm, friendly, and attentive? Would it be impatient, efficient, or hopelessly baffled? Would it be different – just like everyone else? Many websites use the same sort of anonymous language, often conveying nothing. A Google search on “leading provider of” brought up 18,000,000 results. Why are all these so-called leading providers using the same language? Does this language work, or is it just noise? Surely there is a better way. Every word in your sales and marketing communications should encourage your prospective customer to learn something of value. Anything else is wasting time. Confusification! In their book, The Bullfighters Guide: Why business people speak like idiots, Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway, and Jon Warshwsky, say that the official language of business is bull. Jargon abounds on websites, in corporate communications, and in presentations. The hope is that jargon use will confer status on the speaker, or writer. […]

Writing and consulting

Ghostwriting I write business books and articles for people who don’t have time to write. Please see more about ghostwriting here. Improve your writing Are you struggling to write? Regular one-hour phone coaching sessions can help you get to where you’re going faster. Do you need help with ideas or structure? Perhaps you’re stuck. There are methods of overcoming writer’s block. Writing is an art that needs constant practice, yet with regular effort you can do it. Consulting Consulting is usually the first part of the writing process. It’s all about what to write, and who to write for. Are you finding it difficult to present your business offer? What you say, and what your target audience hears may not be the same thing. Are you telling the right story? How do you know? What action do you want your reader to take? Business writing has a specific purpose. You need to be clear about what that is. Website As […]

Book Review: “Kickass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps”

With this book you can! Author Susan Gunelius takes a somewhat complicated field and distills it down to ten steps without losing anything in the process. About the Author Susan Gunelius’ approach to copywriting comes from the inside. As a copywriter for several well-known companies, she was able to develop copy that accomplished the company’s bottom line: sell. This is an important distinction and a different approach than a copywriter from an ad or marketing agency may take, and one that, as Gunelius points out, lines up better with the potential agenda of her targeted reader. Targeted Readers Gunelius aims “Kick-ass Copywriting” at small and medium businesses who want to write their own ad copy. These businesses will be on the hook for campaigns from front-to-back, idea-to-hard-copy, a process with which Gunelius is familiar. Freelance writers and readers of this website, on the other hand, will also benefit from the book. For one, those who want to get into this […]

Dyslexia – What Teachers Need to Know

Chances are you have at least one student with dyslexia in your classroom. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates between 15 percent and 20 percent of American students have dyslexia. That means, in a class of 20 students, 3 may have dyslexia. Because teachers influence a child’s desire to learn, it is important for you to understand dyslexia and know how to best help your students with dyslexia succeed in the classroom. The International Dyslexia Association has stated that dyslexia is specific learning disability that is characterized by: Difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition Poor spelling Poor decoding abilities Children with dyslexia often have poor reading comprehension skills and may avoid reading. In addition, young children with dyslexia may have problems: Reading single words Learning to associate letters and sounds Confusing small words, such as “a,” “at” and “to” Letter reversals Word reversals Because children with dyslexia are usually average or above average intelligence, their problems […]

Is There Really School Choice?

Parents are said to have a choice when it comes to their child’s education. Many people would argue that there is no true school choice. The possible choices for a parent are to enroll their child in a public school, a charter school, private school, or to home school their child. The majority of people end up choosing the public education route for their child, simply for the fact that for the majority of Americans their hand is forced. Charter schools, although publicly funded, are founded to focus on specific content or to provide rigorous. The limiting factors here are not financial in this case. Charter schools are public entities, but there are other factors that often keep children whose parents would like them from attending to do so. Location is a primary detractor for charter schools. Only students living within the charter school’s district can attend that particular school. Enrollment numbers is also often controlled, so this is another […]

Adding Dimension to Your Characters

Mystery writer Gayle Trent, author of Murder Takes the Cake, made a stop on her WOW! Women on Writing blog tour to share what she’s learned about creating characters by writing her cake-decorating cozies — and watching TV’s Lost. I had never watched an episode of the television show Lost until this past summer. I rented Disc One from the first season and proceeded to watch all the discs from every season available. Then I watched the latest season on the computer because the discs were not yet available. I learned something from Lost’s writers: hooking readers and keeping them on the line is all in how you reel them in. And much of that “reeling” is in creating believable characters. If you’re unfamiliar with Lost, the first episode begins with a plane crash. The cast of Lost are the survivors of the crash. During that first episode, you begin to see characters’ personalities emerge. In the ensuing episodes, information […]

Student Expelled for Blog Content & What it Means for Us as Bloggers

Mihaela Lica has awarded me a Thinking Blogger Award, my second award in two days. Isn’t life (and blogging) wonderful? However, this award comes with strings attached. Mihaela discusses the case of Ariel Constantinof, a student in her native Romania who was expelled for his blog content. She wants me to comment on the expulsion. I want to take it one step further, and look at the big picture. What Does This Have To Do With Us as Writers? What does this have to do with writing? He was expelled for blogging about his classmates and a teacher. This case highlights issues of our rights and responsibilities as writers and bloggers. Ariel’s blog shows one post in English on this. Two days ago I was expelled from school without any official document because of the things I wrote about the school, here, on my blog. I wrote about how one of my colleagues is sleeping during hours, things that happen […]

Do You Make Readers Run a Comment Obstacle Course? Make Your Blog Comment Friendly

Comments are the Lifeblood of Your Blog Community Blogging’s interactive nature lends itself beautifully to building a sense of community and encouraging conversations. Bloggers often lament the lack of comments their posts attract. Here’s the deal. You’ve just written a scintillatingly [insert your choice of interesting, momentous, heartwarming, news breaking, money launching etc. post – here]. You sit back and wait for the traffic and comments to roll in. Traffic – check! RSS subscriptions – check! But wait… where are the commenters? Why are there only a handful of comments? Oh…nooo! Why are there no comments? Is Your Blog a Comment Obstacle Course? Bloggers take note. Avoiding or fixing these may attract far more comments, and not cause those of us who want to comment, to leave in frustration. Some are beyond the bloggers’ control, and are more to do with the blog platform you use. However, it is good to be aware that they are frustrations all the same, […]

Stay On Brand With Your Blog

To optimize your blog as a business tool, you need to not only establish a personal brand, but you need to stay “on brand”. I discovered the terms “on brand” and “off brand” at Jibber Jobber’s review of Trent Hamm’s The Simple Dollar. I’ve been wondering whether my posts at Grow Your Writing Business were straying too far off topic. Am I trying to cover too much? Is is relevant or of interest to freelance writers? After all, freelance writing is a huge area to cover. On Topic vs On Brand I had a “Eureka” moment when I read the Jibber Jobber post. I’d been struggling with thinking “on topic” rather than thinking “on brand.” There is a difference. Liz Strauss at Successful Blog and Wendy Piersall at eMoms At Home both cover quite an eclectic range of topics around their central themes of personal development and business. They have developed strong and very effective brands around their names, personalities, […]

Identity Crisis Online – How Do You Manage Your Online Identity?

Joanna Young, blogger extraordinaire at Confident Writing, and now an official Business Blog Angel, raises an issue I’ve been thinking about lately – How do you manage your online identity? Which Blogging Hat Am I Wearing Today? I notice this especially when I comment at other blogs. The URL I put depends on the topic, but as most of my blogs are business related, I could really put any one of them. I’m sure others must have the same “Which blogging hat am I wearing at the moment?” dilemma as I do. Your Blogging Identity As well as blogging here at my personal Grow Your Writing Business blog, I also blog professionally at Small Biz Mentor, Home Biz Notes and You Can Submit. I am a Staff Writer at a few other online venues and also do some ghost writing and ghost blogging (love that term!), as well as print media freelance writing and editing. What About Your Sites Outside […]