50 Ways Writers Can Prepare for the New Year


50 Ways Writers Can Prepare for the New Year | M. Shannon Hernandez.

With many writers, life at the keyboard is an all-or-nothing venture.

Santa With Generic Christmas List

There are pressures nowadays not only on producing content, but amplifying its message across social.

The job of author, journalist, blogger – however you care to pigeonhole what you do – has taken on a life of its own, often swallowing up the little extra-curricular time wordsmiths used to avail themselves of.

Remember when a social life meant, you know, going out?

This article in the HuffPost is a great reminder that there are things in life besides word-processing software.

How we look and feel about ourselves not only affects the way we work, but also reflects in the content we produce.

Generally, the better off we are psychologically and physically, the more upbeat our sentiment, thus the more likely we are to see our efforts shared on our behalf.

In addition, the more emotionally stable our lives, the more readily we take on even the most mundane tasks as well as actually producing fluid copy and accepting new challenges with gusto.

The questions that led to these 50 Writing Tips For The New Year were:

  • How are you getting yourself in tip-top writing mode for the new year?
  • What’s on your must-finish-up-so-you-can-start-afresh list?
  • What tips/strategies/ideas would you include on a list about getting ready for writing in the new year?

The answers are perhaps not what you’d expect. Check out for yourself, see what you think…


  • What was in your 2013 writing gospel that you need to go to confession for?
  • What are you going to do about those articles/manuscripts that have reached a dead end? Bin them? Seek advice? Or shelve them for another year?

image: ubicabs.com

Demand Media Take “Write Epic Shit” Too Literally


Jason Darrell:

How Demand Media took “Write Epic Shit” too literally

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s crappy writing.

Sea view telescope looking out from Mablethorp...

There may be the odd reference on this blog to back up the above quote/statement. So when I heard from Brian Clark on Google+ that Demand Media was fading fast, I rubbed my hands with glee.

I do apologise to all its staff for delighting in DM‘s demise, but the Internet does not need this sort of copywriting. Neither do writers, readers nor search engines, if we’re getting real.

Sadly, the company (and its subsidiaries) doesn’t seem to be as bad off as all that:

  • Writers will still be exploited
  • editors will still do their level best to drown out a good copywriter’s talent by stifling them with dubious editing guidelines
  • readers and site visitors will still be non-plussed when they land on site expecting expert information.

Is there a silver lining?

What the “haemorrhaging traffic” and plummet in visitors may yet do is force Demand Media to allow its writers’ voices to cut through the mundanity and actually accentuate the content.

Can (or should) the editing team educate writers to produce content that’s both informative and engaging?

If the comments on Variety’s post (see: related articles) are to be believed, the authors are not where the problem lies. However, the majority of its written content makes a wet weekend in Mablethorpe look like a month on The Costas.

It may also encourage a proper wage for its contributors, too. The knock-on effect of Demand realising that “you get what you pay for” would resonate across global media.

Now that would be progress, if it happened. Let’s just see if public opinion outstrips demand, shall we?


Have Your Say:

  • Is the demise of Demand Media a good thing for global media?
  • Or, if managed properly, could it yet be a platform to launch the Internet’s future backbone, quality copywriters?

Originally posted on Variety:

Take note, Twitter: Not every tech company has a happy ending after a ballyhooed IPO.

Just look at Demand Media, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based firm some thought would revolutionize content production. Not long after the company went public in January 2011, its market capitalization soared to more than $2 billion, sending the then-5-year-old firm’s value briefly past that of the New York Times Co.

Compare those heights with where Demand finds itself today, having plummeted to roughly a quarter of its peak value. Revenues for the most recent quarter were down year-over-year for the first time since that IPO. Co-founder Richard Rosenblatt is no longer CEO as of October, and the search for his replacement is under way. Demand and Rosenblatt declined comment.

The chief exec’s role will be tough to fill given how steeply Demand has declined over its seven-year run. Changes in Google’s search algorithms have twice hammered…

View original 1,541 more words

LinkedIn Personal Notes | Step-by-Step Guide


I was checking out my LinkedIn updates for the first time since getting back from Tenerife to find that they’d added a private “personal notes” dashboard.  Beneath all of your connections, you can add all sorts of useful info about them that only you (and LinkedIn, of course) can see.

Here’s a step-by-step guide, plus a couple of suggestions on how this new LinkedIn feature can be improved.  Well, IMHO and from a better UX perspective, anyway.

LinkedIn Personal Notes | 1 – about your contact

Sorry, Mark Vang. I was checking out your “broken” connections when I saw the Tour for the new Personal Notes feature on LinkedIn for the first time.

It’s a handy new feature, a little more developed than the similar facility on Google+. So here we go with a walk-through…

…1 – make a few personal notes about your contact.

Linkedin personal notes - about

LinkedIn Personal Notes | 2 – Conversation History

Ever received an e-mail that opens with:

“Hey, Jay. Do you remember when we said “x” about “y” in case “z” happens? Well it has!”

…and you just haven’t got a clue what you’re supposed to be remembering!?

Well now, beneath your contact, the last conversation you had with them displays as a prompt. This is great if the last conversation is the one your contact/client is referring to. Not so great if you’ve spoken many times since.

I’ll add to this description if this feature lists more than one historical chat.

I wonder whether the ‘contacts’ draw on iPhone Mail as LinkedIn has now officially partnered with the Apple service?  Saw an article in today’s F+ ezine all about this intriguing update: http://goo.gl/5PIbVN

LI Personal Notes - Conversation

LinkedIn Personal Notes | 2a – Reminders

Add reminders. This could simply be when you promised to get in touch/meet with your LinkedIn connection or a critical update/deadline you said you’d deliver by.

The options for the reminders are minimal and inflexible, so you may want to add a note along with the reminder. You can choose reminders in:

  • ► 1 day
  • ► 1 week
  • ► 1 month
  • ► recurring

This will be very handy if this syncs with your iCalendar both ways. I’ll track this and come back with an addendum to this description.

LI Personal Notes - Reminders

LinkedIn Personal Notes | 2b – how you met

Save info about where you met and who introduced you, if applicable. This is an awesome feature if you’re someone who does a lot of real-world networking or hops between social media platforms/communities.

nb – you can now see the list of “personal notes” start to expand under the “Relationships” tab as you add more data about a contact. Be interesting to see how this plays out in Calendar!

LI Personal Notes - How We Met

LinkedIn Personal Notes | 2c – Contact Tags

You can add LinkedIn’s suggested tags beneath your contact, e.g. classmate, colleague, favourites, etc. Perhaps more appropriate, as LinkedIn is all about networking and meeting new people, you can create and manage your own.

Wouldn’t it be great if LinkedIn could provide “suggested tags”, like those you see on CircleCount.com?

Y’know, perhaps we associate a contact with one niche having had experience with them there. However, they may be more prolific (and relevant) in others. True, each contact has a list of endorsements.

However, the way they’re displayed on LinkedIn – with the skill and then a list of faces of contacts who’ve given them the endorsement – is not a great way of providing an “at-a-glance” view of what your contact excels in. #justsayin

LI Personal Notes - Contacts

LinkedIn Personal Notes | 3 – import contacts

Keep a one-stop calendar and contacts list on LinkedIn by syncing your iCalendar and e-mail address book. Now, LinkedIn has asked permission to “manage” my Google contacts. Yeah, good luck with that if it lists all 16,600 followers from Google+…

…as long as it doesn’t blast out a random e-mail to all my GMail contacts, then I’m okay with it to an extent.

However, I do hate granting access to third party apps that want to “manage” my stuff. Access, for sure.  But why the need to manage?

Yeah, think I might revoke this one, despite the War and Peace effort (purple box) trying to convince us that allowing LinkedIn to manage your contacts and calendar is a wise move. That sort of puts me off, too.

LI Personal Notes - import contacts

LinkedIn Personal Notes | 4 – Commonality

A simple graph showing which skills and expertise (top bubble) and groups (bottom bubble) you and your contact have in common.

If you share skills but no groups, perhaps you could check out the groups your contact frequents and get involved. You know, actually PARTICIPATE? ☺

LI Personal Notes - common ground

And there you have it.  A quick walk through how to manage your connections on LinkedIn.  I’m not sure about all of the features yet, but will no doubt warm to those that don’t convince me as long as they behave.  So, over to you:

  • Are there any ways you would improve this service?
  • Will you use it for all of your LinkedIn connections or just add personal notes for those who you know you ought to be making more of an effort to connect with?

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Related articles