The Surprising Skill Gap Businesses Face Today

Don't Panic Liberal Arts Majors, The Tech World Wants You

Don’t Panic Liberal Arts Majors, The Tech World Wants You

In an era when software engineering and other technical skills are in high demand, a surprising new skill gap is emerging.  On a recent podcast of the James Altucher Show, LinkedIn Editor in Chief, Dan Roth, said the skill that companies say they need the most of today – that they’re not seeing – is communication skills. Hiring managers report they’re not seeing people who can explain things well, write memos effectively and express ideas clearly.

Good news liberal arts majors: your skills are still highly necessary. We still need human skills. They’re quite simply irreplaceable. The skills you learned in college are relevant, and companies need them. If you can size up technical information, connect the dots and write about it  – even better.

No matter how technical the world becomes, we will always need people to explain products, communicate company vision, to sell and to gain support for initiatives.  Numbers need interpretation, software needs to be explained and companies always need to tell a story. Even in non-sales positions, we still need to sell in some way – whether it’s to get buy-in on a project, motivate someone to do their best work or accomplish some other form of persuasion. 

In the book, The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education, George Anders explains how the tech sector is giving rise to new opportunities for liberal arts types. The New York Times elaborated on this trend in the August 2017 article below.

Don’t Panic, Liberal Arts Majors. The Tech World Wants You.

According to both Anders and Stross, the ever-expanding tech sector is now producing career opportunities in fields – project management, recruitment, human relations, branding, data analysis, market research, design, fund-raising and sourcing, to name some – that specifically require the skills taught in the humanities.

Write An E-Book And Make More Money

Write and design your own ebook with a customizable template

Write and design your own ebook with a customizable template

An instructional ebook can be a powerful tool in your content strategy. Your own ebook can position you as an industry authority and help your customers perceive you as a trusted expert in your field. You can write an e-book as a free opt-in to build your email list, or you can use an ebook as a content upgrade to sell as a digital product. Whatever the purpose, a well-written e-book can help you gain the trust of potential clients and build your brand. When they read your ebook, they’re more likely to read your blog or visit your website.  

Maybe you’ve thought about writing an e-book but struggle to find the right words or get your ideas organized. You know that you have something to write about, but the task is somewhat daunting. You just can’t seem to get started. If you don’t have the resources to hire a professional writer, it’s not as hard as you might think to write your own ebook. That’s why I’ve compiled some simple steps to help you get started. 

Identify A Great Ebook Topic 

The trick to selecting your book topic is to really understand your customer. Think about your customers’ most common problem. If your ebook answers their most pressing question or solves their most persistent problem, they’ll want to hear what you have to say. Do some market research to help validate your topic idea. What questions do your current customers ask you the most? Join some Facebook groups in your niche. What discussions are taking place? What are the most frequently asked questions? What struggles are they dealing with?

Write An Outline and Table of Contents

Start by outlining your topic so that you’ll have a framework to follow as you’re writing and organizing your ideas. Planning your book from the start helps save time and allows you to write more efficiently. Use your earlier research to clearly define your audience. The more details you include when describing your ideal audience, the better. Set a goal for the number of words you would like to write. When you have a goal to work towards, it helps you make progress towards finishing your book. After you have your ideal audience and desired length established, create a high-level view of what you’ll be covering in your book. Your outline does not need to be set in stone, it just helps you stay organized and serves as a reference point on your progress Your outline will eventually become your Table of Contents.

Just Start Writing

I recommend setting a daily goal on how many words you would like to write each day. Set aside a specific time each day to accomplish that goal. Start by working on one chapter at a time. It helps to use a simple question and answer system for each chapter. Ask why, what, when, where, and how questions on your topic. Continually refine your writing until you’re sure that you’ve clearly and effectively answered those questions.

We have some resources to help you get the job done in a fraction of the time. It’s as easy as downloading one of our e-book templates, following our Irresistible Writing Formula and dropping in your text. 

Ebook Templates With The Irresistible Writing Formula from Writerrs.com

Our ebook writing and design templates make publishing an ebook fast and easy.

Proofread and Review

Read through your work with a critical eye. Look for typos and misspellings. Replace all uses of the passive voice with the active voice. Instead of, “The dog was brought to the vet by its owner,” you would say “The owner took her dog to the vet.” For more tips on what to watch out for when proofreading, check out my previous article here. Reading your work aloud also helps you catch grammar and usage errors. Don’t forget to install Grammarly, your personal grammar coach to help you along the way. The last thing you want is for your readers to point out grammar and spelling errors!

Format Your Ebook

Once you’ve finalized your text, you can begin thinking about laying out your pages and adding some graphics. You don’t need to be a graphic designer to do this. As long as you remember some basic page design principles, you can create a presentable ebook without breaking the bank. When laying out your pages, you want to:

  • Break up text with plenty of white space
  • Add quality images without cluttering the page
  • Use headings and call-out boxes for emphasis

You also don’t need to invest in expensive software. Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Apple Pages or Keynote can work well for basic page layout. Free tools such as Canva can help you create your own designs, while photo sites such as Unsplash offer quick access to beautiful images. Once you’re finished with your design, simply export your document as a PDF, and you’re done! 

Note: If you’re planning on publishing your ebook on Amazon, you’ll need to format your book using their Kindle formatting guidelines.

So if you’ve been thinking of writing an ebook, it’s worth your time to get started right away. An ebook is good for your business. You’ll help build customer trust and boost your authority.

What topic are you thinking of writing about?

Tips For Organizing Your Office: Ultimate List of Chic Office Supplies

Tips for organizing your office in style.

Tips for organizing your office in style.

Organizing your office can pay off more than you think. In fact, not taking the time to organize your office can cost you more than you realize. When you’re disorganized, your personal productivity suffers. That’s why it’s worth the time to plan your workspace. While you’re at it, why not do it in style? In the spirit of back-to-school season, think of organizing your workspace as the grown-up version of back-to-school. At the same time, add a little creativity to your workspace – it will make sitting down to work a little more fun. From desk sets to paper clips to your trash can, it’s easy to create a chic, yet functional office without breaking the bank. So here’s an ultimate list of chic office supplies for less – all on Amazon Prime. As a frequent Amazon Prime customer, I’m happy to share with you the links below. They are affiliate links which means I would earn a small fee for recommending them – at no cost to you. As with all Amazon Prime purchases, satisfaction is guaranteed with easy returns. You can create your own organizing system and have it delivered in just a few days. If you have a productivity system you’re already using, you’ll want to organize your office in a way that fits with that system. Whatever way you choose to organize your office, you’ll be glad you did. It will help you be more efficient with time, feel more organized and stress-free.

Tips For Organizing Your Office: Start With Catch-All Supplies

First, you need to “catch” all the papers that come in with the right desk supplies. Here are some ideas:

Rose Gold Desk Four Piece Accessory Set on Amazon for $30.97

Rose Gold Desk Four Piece Accessory Set on Amazon for $30.97

Rose Gold Desk Four Piece Accessory Set  A clutter-free desk makes you feel more productive. That’s why every office needs a place to collect incoming papers. The quote, “A place for everything, and everything in its place” is never truer than when it comes to handling paper flow at your workspace. Some basic organizing holders can make sense of all the piles of paper that tend to accumulate. It helps to create a “home” for each category of paper that lands on your desk.  A clean workspace helps you have a more efficient workflow. Use the tray in this set to collect all new documents that come in and need attention. I would add a second tray for documents that I’ve opened, reviewed and are now waiting for my attention. It’s a simple system, but you’ll be surprised how much it helps.

Set of 12 Gold Foil Document Folders on Amazon for $10.99

Set of 12 Gold Foil Document Folders on Amazon for $10.99

Set of 12 Gold Foil Document Folders on Amazon  If you have different projects in progress, document folders like these can help you keep everything that pertains to each project in a separate folder. The closure makes them useful for keeping receipts and documents of varying sizes contained in one spot.

Tips For Organizing Your Office: Prioritize

Next, organize your workflow by recognizing that not all work is created equal. Create a personal productivity system that helps you organize your inbox based on importance. Here are some tools to help:

Set of 6 "Very Important, Super Important, Beyond Important" file folders on Amazon for $13.99

Set of 6 “Very Important, Super Important, Beyond Important” file folders on Amazon for $13.99

Set of 6 “Very Important”, “Super Important”, “Beyond Important” File Folders on Amazon for $13.99  You have a to-do list that’s a mile long and no clue on what task to do first. Prioritizing your tasks is key to time management and productivity, and a clearly labeled file folder system can help you do just that. If you need visual reminders, these file folders help make it clear on where different papers should live.

Rose Gold Memory Stick on Amazon for $10.38

Rose Gold Memory Stick on Amazon for $10.38

 

Rose Gold Memory Stick on Amazon for $10.38  If you’re like me, you may have a lot of flash drives floating around. They’re handy, but they can also cause confusion when trying to remember what is stored on each one. Color coding your flash drives is one way to keep everything prioritized. Why not make the first color rose gold?

Rose gold push pin/clip set on Amazon for $13.99

Rose gold push pin/clip set on Amazon for $13.99

Rose Gold Pushpin/Clip Set on Amazon for $13.99 Use paper clips and binder clips to group items by priority. Sure you could get boring silver paper clips and black binder clips, but these are so much more elegant.  

Tips For Organizing Your Office: Add Some Flair

If your surroundings make you happy, you’re more likely to stay at your desk and finish the task at hand. A few decorative items can add some interest when organizing your office space.

Vintage Block Perpetual Desk Calendar on Amazon for $16.49

Vintage Block Perpetual Desk Calendar on Amazon for $16.49

Vintage Block Perpetual Desk Calendar on Amazon for $16.49  Keep track of your days in style with a vintage style perpetual calendar with rotating days and months. It never hurts to add some retro touches to your desk supplies. While digital versions aren’t going away anytime soon, this old-school style could come in handy – and make you smile. 

Faux Marble/Rose Gold Mouse Pad on Amazon for $8.99

Faux Marble/Rose Gold Mouse Pad on Amazon for $8.99

Faux Marble/Rose Gold Mouse Pad on Amazon for $8.99  Ditch the plain mouse pad with the company logo and inspire some creativity to your workspace with a pretty mouse pad. 

White/Gold Optical Wireless Mouse on Amazon for $9.95

White/Gold Optical Wireless Mouse on Amazon for $9.95

White/Gold Optical Wireless Mouse on Amazon for $9.95  Because you need a pretty mouse to go with the mouse pad.

Faux Marble/Rose Gold iPhone7 Case on Amazon for $10.99

Faux Marble/Rose Gold iPhone7 Case on Amazon for $10.99

Faux Marble/Rose Gold iPhone7 Case on Amazon for $10.99  Because you need a phone case to go with the mouse pad and mouse.

Tips For Organizing Your Office: Reframe the Mundane

When thinking about ways to organize your office, replace the “standard issue” office supplies with some of these beauties:

Acrylic/Rose Gold Post It Note Dispenser on Amazon for $9.73 

Acrylic/Rose Gold Post It Note Dispenser on Amazon for $9.73

Acrylic/Rose Gold Post It Note Dispenser on Amazon for $9.73  Make your reminders just a little more stylish with an acrylic and rose gold post-it note dispenser. 

Rose Gold Craft Scissors on Amazon for $14.99 

Rose Gold Craft Scissors on Amazon for $14.99

Rose Gold Craft Scissors on Amazon for $14.99  Add some flair to your desk supplies with some rose gold scissors.

Scotch Rose Gold/White Desktop Tape Dispenser on Amazon for $12.99

Scotch Rose Gold/White Desktop Tape Dispenser on Amazon for $12.99

Scotch Rose Gold/White Desktop Tape Dispenser on Amazon for $12.99 Dress up your desk with a rose gold scotch tape dispenser. Who wants ordinary desk supplies?

Simple Human Rose Gold Trash Can on Amazon for $19.99

Simple Human Rose Gold Trash Can on Amazon for $19.99

 

A trash can by your desk is one of the most immediate ways to organize your office. It helps you keep your work area clutter-free, especially when unnecessary paper comes in. Instead of putting papers in a pile to deal with later, you can immediately toss the unimportant in your trash or recycling can. I like the lid on this Simple Human Rose Gold Trash Can because it keeps the trash from overflowing – a big source of clutter. 

Set of Six Rose Gold Black Ink Pens W/Refills on Amazon for $10.99

Set of Six Rose Gold Black Ink Pens W/Refills on Amazon for $10.99

 

Set of Six Rose Gold Black Ink Pens W/Refills on Amazon for $10.99 One of the easiest ways to stay organized is to write things down. A simple pen and paper is a visual way to remember things, and it’s an easy solution for quick to-do lists and reminders.

Because you feel in control of your surroundings, an organized workspace leads to greater productivity. You have fewer distractions, and you maximize your time. So don’t wait. Get organized, and set yourself up for success!

What are your tips for organizing your office?

Book Review: Building A Story Brand

August 2018 Book Pick: Building A Story Brand

Building A Story Brand by Donald Miller

Building A Story Brand, by New York Times best-selling author Donald Miller, is the ultimate how-to book on helping customers understand the compelling benefits of your business. The key: simplifying your message. This book shows you exactly how to creatively develop and execute the story of your team and serve your customers with a passion. Use the universal elements of the power of stories to dramatically improve how you connect with customers. I only recommend services or products I personally use, and that’s why I highly recommend this book. I regularly refer to this book as my go-to resource for content writing.

This post contains an affiliate link which means I earn a small fee should you choose to purchase through the link.

 

 

 

 

Instructional Design: The Secret of Successful Online Courses

How to right a killer course with the right instructional design techniques.

Don’t bore your students. Use the right instructional design techniques to write a killer course.

Online learning is more popular than ever. If you want to learn about something, chances are pretty good you can take a course on it – on your own schedule and at your own pace. Online courses are perfect for training remote employees, teaching customers about your products and gaining new customers. They’re convenient and cost-effective. With the right instructional design techniques, online courses can be transformative. 

First, it’s important to remember that adults learn differently than children. Usually, adults make a voluntary choice to take a course. Even if they’re required to complete a course for their job, they’re willing because they know it benefits.

Second, when taking an online course, the potential distractions are endless. From social media to emails, to online shopping – just about anything could lead them away

For this reason, if your course doesn’t serve their purpose, you’ll lose your students.

That’s why if you’re creating online courses, you must avoid common pitfalls that could steal them away or make them lose interest. 

With this in mind, let’s look at a few proven instructional design techniques that will keep your students actively engaged in your course. If you’re writing your first course or If you already have courses online, check them to make sure they include these elements.

Instructional Design Technique #1 – Understand Your Audience

Who is your ideal student? Who exactly are you teaching? You must thoroughly understand your ideal customer’s struggles and desires. What does this person want most?

It’s important to realize adults have a lot of life experience and past knowledge. When learning something new, they draw upon their backgrounds. This can be both good and bad. As a result, students will bring different perceptions, different expectations, and their own biases to your course. That’s why your course needs to allow for these differences. For example, some people may tend to avoid traditional classroom learning. With this in mind, they may need more time to learn by doing. That’s why defining your audience or ideal student is key. When you completely understand your audience, you can consider differences in educational levels, socioeconomic levels, culture and other important factors. Therefore, you’ll employ the right instructional design techniques with specific needs in mind. As a result, you’ll avoid student frustration and those unwanted negative reviews.

Instructional Design Technique #2 – Involve The Left Side Of The Brain

One of the best instructional design techniques is to involve both sides of the brain. Each side of the brain serves a different purpose:

The left side of the brain is logical. It uses analytical thinking and step by step instructions. Make sure to provide:

  • A logical and sequential organization of your topics
  • Information that is broken down into step by step processes
  • Statistics, facts, and quotes
  • Topics in a lecture format
  • Minimal distractions
  • Orderly content
  • Independent study

Instructional Design Technique #3 – Involve The Right Side Of The Brain

In contrast, the right side of the brain is more visual. It uses creative and conceptual processes. Make sure to include elements that allow students to use this type of thinking. Here are some instructional design techniques that will help:

  • Encourage thinking outside the boundaries of your course.
  • Provide ways for students to apply the concepts to other areas of their lives.
  • Facilitate creative ideas and innovation.
  • Present a variety of perspectives.
  • Include visual images, color, and shapes.
  • Involve the senses. Allow them to read, write, listen and think at the same time.
  • Provide a handout with an area for note taking. 
  • Create opportunities for open discussion and group projects.
  • Include creative problem-solving activities.

In essence, when you engage both sides of the brain, you’re far less likely to have students turn off your course and far more likely to receive rave reviews.

Ultimately, the right instructional design techniques help your course become a transforming experience that leads to true change for your students. 

Online Courses As Part of a Content Marketing Strategy

Online courses can be a perfect addition to your content marketing mix. If you’re a subject matter authority, or if you have experience in a subject area, chances are you’re further along on that journey than many other people. Think about the expertise you offer or a skill that others may want to learn. An online course can help you get your message out to the market and establish you as an authority in your industry. If you have a special talent or skill, you can share it with the world. If you have mastery or knowledge of a subject, you can teach it.

Once your course is complete, you’ll need to decide how students will access your course. There are a number of choices available today. You could choose to launch your course on a learning marketplace platform such as Udemy, or you could choose to market it on your own website. In either case, an online course can go a long way toward helping you establish your brand’s online reputation.

If you’re looking to take your content to the next level, an online course may be just the right choice. If you’d like to learn more about how to use the right instructional design techniques, get the step-by-step guide in Sandra’s book, The Step by Step Guide To Copywriting: Online Learning and Course Design.

Need help writing an online course? Let us help you get your course out into the world. We have professional copywriters who specialize in instructional design. Shop our online course writing service here.

Grammar Mistakes And Word Traps To Avoid

avoid these common grammar mistakes

Grammar mistakes can kill your credibility.

Whether we like it or not, everyone writes. From emails to text messages or social media posts, your writing says a lot about you. Careless grammar mistakes are the equivalent of bad manners when it comes to writing. Save yourself the embarrassment of grammar mistakes in your emails, texts or any other written communication. You don’t need to become a grammar expert, just take some simple steps that will go a long way to avoid grammar mistakes and improve your writing skills.

The English language has several words that are commonly misused and misunderstood. Even though they may look alike and sound alike, the wrong word may significantly alter the meaning of what you’re trying to say. 

Even if your grammar is correct, the wrong word and grammar mistakes can completely alter your message. Even worse, it can make you look bad in the eyes of your customers or colleagues.

Grammar Tools Help You Improve Your Writing & Minimize Grammar Mistakes

While spell check can catch basic spelling errors, other tools can catch bigger grammar mistakes and actually improve your writing. By doing something as simple as installing a grammar tool, you can level up your writing and make sure your message gets out effectively.

One of my favorite tools is Grammarly. With both a paid and a powerful free version, it’s your personal writing assistant – always there lending a helping hand. While it doesn’t replace a human editor, it can help you become a more confident writer by easily catching common grammar mistakes.

Grammarly Writing Support

One of my favorite books is The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White. One of the most influential books of all time, it’s the definitive guide on effective writing style and usage. This little book has been a standard on my desk for as long as I can remember.

Be Careful of English Words That Are Similar But Have Different Meanings

Falling for common word traps can turn an otherwise flawless message into a credibility killer. That’s why I’ve compiled the checklist below of some of the most common problem words in the English language. Take a look at your writing and make sure to correct these word choice mistakes.

Affect or Effect

This is one of the most commonly misused word choices when referring to something changing something else.

“Affect” is an action. Use this when you’re talking about the act of changing. 

That speech affected me positively.

“Effect” is a noun. Use this when you’re talking about the change itself.

That speech had a positive effect on me.

Assure, Ensure or Insure

While some people consider these words to be interchangeable, they’re not the same. Often people will use “ensure” or “insure” when “assure” is actually the better choice. Here’s why:

“Assure” means you are telling someone that everything is okay. Use this when you want to remove doubt or convey confidence about something.

“I assure you I can handle this project.”

“Ensure” means make certain that something does or does not happen.

“We perform several tests to ensure the best performance.”

“Insure” is used when referring to insurance policies. Use this when you’re discussing compensation for loss, or protection against damage, death or a person becoming injured.

“We would like to insure our car for $20,000.”

Their, They’re or There

“Their” is possessive. Use this when you’re talking about a group owning something.

Their flowers are gorgeous.

“They’re” is a contraction. Use this for they are.

They’re going home.

“There” refers to a place. Use this when your talking about the location of something or someone.

They’re going over there.

Then or Than

“Then” is usually used as an adverb or adjective and often refers to a sense of time. Use this when describing what comes next or what happened in the past.

“We went to dinner, then we went for a walk.”

“If the traffic is light, then I’ll get there early.”

“Than” is typically used as a conjunction to make a comparison between two things.

“He is faster than I am.”

“Your food is colder than mine is.”

Your or You’re

“Your” is possessive. Use this when you’re discussing owning something.

We’re going over to your house.

You’re is a contraction. Use this when you’re talking about being something.

You’re a nice person.

Its or It’s

The apostrophe leads to the most confusion on this one. Just remember it’s the opposite of what you might think.

“It’s” contains an apostrophe, yet is not possessive. It’s a contraction, meaning it is. Use this when you’re combining “it” with “is.”

It’s going to be a hot day.

“Its” has no apostrophe, yet is possessive. Use this when you’re referring to owning something.

The book is about the rose and its many colors.

Me or I

The use of “me” or “I” gets confusing when there are two subjects or objects linked with the word “and.”Many people will be tempted to misuse the word “I.”

This is correct: When you’re finished with the paint brush, give it to Beth and me.

This is incorrect: When you’re finished with the paintbrush, give it to Beth and I.

This is correct: Beth and I joined the gym.

This is incorrect: Beth and me went to the store.

Tip: The word “I” is never used after the word “to.” To check yourself, remove the other person’s name. You wouldn’t say, “Give it to I.” You also wouldn’t say “Me joined the gym.”

To or Too

“To” is used before a noun or a verb.

I sent the letter to my friend.

“Too” is used to mean “also” or “as well.” It’s also used to describe an adjective.

He, too, belongs to the club.

I think it’s too hot in the jacuzzi.

A lot or A lot

This one is simple. “Alot” is not a word. Don’t use it.

“A lot” is always two words.

“We like you a lot.”

Lose or Loose

“Lose” is a verb. Use this when referring to not winning a competition, misplacing something or to be free of something.

“I would like to lose at least fifteen pounds.”

“Loose” is an adjective. Use this when describing something that is not tight or restrictive.

“My pants are loose because I lost fifteen pounds.”

Compliment or Complement

Although they are spelled almost the same, they have very different meanings. They are not used interchangeably.

“Compliment” is a noun or a verb and means to convey admiration or provide a positive statement about someone or something. Use this when congratulating a person or giving that person praise.

“I would like to compliment you on the extraordinary service here.”

“That was such a nice compliment.”

“Complement” is a noun or a verb and means to augment, improve or make something more complete. Use this when describing an addition to something that makes it better.

“The flowers were a perfect complement to the room.”

“The flowers complemented the sofa.”

Farther or Further

The words “farther” and “further” can many times be used interchangeably. However, there are some subtle differences between the two.

“Farther” may describe a physical distance.

“She lived farther from school than I did.”

“Further” may describe a figurative distance.

“We cannot go any further in these negotiations.”

However, there are many ambiguous situations where you could interpret certain instances as a physical distance or figurative distance. For example, “I’m farther along in writing my paper.” For this reason, either word can be correct when the meaning is vague or unclear.

Should of or Should have

The use of “should of” is wrong. So is “could of” or “would of.” This is a common mistake. All are wrong.

When speaking, people will often say “shoulda.” You may hear someone say, “I shoulda gone home.”

When writing, people will change “shoulda” to “should of.”

The correct word is a contraction. The correct usage is “should have” or “should’ve.”

“I should have gone home.”

The same would be true for “could have” or “would have.”

When In Doubt Look Up Potential Grammar Mistakes

Put your best foot forward in all your written communication. Don’t distract your readers with grammar errors or confuse them with the wrong words. When in doubt, look it up. It’s worth it to take the extra steps necessary to avoid embarrassing mistakes.

Please note: This article includes affiliate links. That means if you choose to make a purchase, we will earn a commission – at no additional cost to you. You can be assured that we have experience with all of these companies. We recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of a small commission that would be made should you choose to make a purchase. We would never want you to spend money on these tools unless you need them or feel they would help you accomplish your business goals.

Make Sure Your Web Copy Doesn’t Suck!
Review your web copy for common fatal flaws.

Subscribe to get your FREE Web Copy Audit Checklist and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This