A Five-Part Framework for Writing Better Sales Copy

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Ray Edwards, who is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in business. You can find him on his website, Twitter, and Facebook.

If you want to sell more of your products and services, or even simply sell more people on your ideas, you must learn the basics of the art of copywriting.

A Five-Part Framework For Better Sales Copy

Photo Credit: ingirogiro via Compfight cc

But what is copywriting, really? One of my favorite definitions was given by a man named John E. Kennedy, back in 1904. Kennedy defined advertising (and copywriting) as: “salesmanship in print.”

If you can write effective sales copy, you can literally write your own paycheck. There really should be no such thing as a “broke copywriter”. By definition, good copywriters can create money out of thin air. So why does copy so often fail?

Copywriting fails when you ignore the principles

There are universal psychological triggers that help you sell more effectively. The problem is, the field of copywriting is strewn with misleading, manipulative, and even in some cases malicious techniques.

You can hardly “swing a cat” without hitting a copywriter who has a “formula” for writing copy. Most of these formulas are actually quite good. Many however, are based on tricks of manipulation and psychology that are more than a bit morally wonky.

The framework I’m going to share with you today, though, is intentionally based on universal principles that are focused on doing good, and helping people make decisions that are in their own best interest.

To sell more, P.A.S.T.O.R. your customers

Most people associate the term “pastor” with the preacher at church. While this is certainly true in most cases, the original meaning of the word “pastor” was actually “to shepherd.” And what does the shepherd do? He or she cares for, feeds, and protects the flock.

Now, before we go any further, I should address the habit that some marketers have of referring to their customers as their “herd.” It seems to paint an unflattering picture.

This kind of imagery is not what I am invoking here. The actual role of a shepherd is a loving, caring, and protective one. In fact, Jesus, who called himself the “good Shepherd” actually laid down his life for his flock.

I am not suggesting any religious overtones for your copy: what I am suggesting is that you adopt the same loving, caring, and protective role as you write copy for your prospects and customers.

And, as you might’ve guessed, P.A.S.T.O.R. is also an acronym for the major sections of your copy. Here is the explanation:

“P” is for PROBLEM

You must begin by identifying the problem that you are solving. The simplest, most effective way to do this is to describe the problem in great detail.

It’s a psychological principle: the more accurately you can describe your reader’s problem in terms they relate to, the more they instinctively feel that you must have an answer to that problem. Use the reader’s own language, the very words and phrases they use to describe the problem they want to solve.

For instance, if you are writing about fitness and weight loss, you might begin by describing their current situation this way:

You’ve tried every fad diet that’s come along. You’ve started and stopped a dozen different exercise programs, perhaps joined several different gyms, but the truth is you just can’t seem to take the weight off (or keep it off.) Perhaps you’re even feeling a little disgusted with yourself and your inability to control your eating and your weight. You feel like no matter what you try, it’s not going to work.

Remember, you’re not judging their behavior, rather you are describing their experience as it currently is. This means you have to understand their experience as it currently is. You have to know your audience and what they are thinking.

As the great copywriting legend Robert Collier said, you have to “join the conversation that is already taking place in the reader’s mind.”

“A” is for AMPLIFY

The next step is to amplify the consequences of not solving the problem. This is really the key to making sales, and it is probably the most neglected step in the process.

What will motivate people to buy your product, invest in your service, or accept your idea is usually not the beautiful outcome framed in a positive light. It is rather, realizing the cost of not attaining that outcome. In other words: what is it costing them to not solve this problem?

When I’m writing copy about a business improvement program, for instance, I may have the reader walk through a simple exercise like this:

Write down your average monthly income over the last 12 months. Then write down what you want your average monthly income to be. Let’s say that your average income is $ 5000 per month, and your goal is actually to make $ 15,000 per month in your business. That means the gap between where you are and where you want to be is $ 10,000 per month. You’re paying a cost of $ 10,000 every month you don’t solve this problem.

“S” is for STORY and SOLUTION

Once you have described the problem and amplified the consequences of not solving it, it’s time to share the story of how the problem can be solved.

This will be different depending on your situation. It might be the story of how you yourself finally solved this persistent problem. It might be the story of how you helped a client or customer discover the solution on their own.

It does need to be more than simply a description of what the solution is: telling the story of Bob, the frustrated business owner who was on the edge of bankruptcy, whose family had lost faith in him, and who, out of desperation tried one last idea that saved his business, is infinitely more powerful than simply saying, “One day, Bob figured out the answer.”

It should go without saying, but I will say it just in case: the story must absolutely be true. Don’t make these things up. And if you’re thinking, “But what if there is no story?” I would suggest you just haven’t looked closely enough.

There is always a story to tell.

“T” is for TRANSFORMATION and TESTIMONY

The next key step in writing your copy is to remember that whatever you’re selling, whether it’s a home study program, a book, a seminar, your consulting services — anything at all — what people are buying is not the “stuff,” it’s the transformation.

When people buy the P90X workout program, they did not wake up one morning and say to themselves, “I sure hope today somebody tries to sell me a bunch of DVDs and a wall chart.”

Those things (the DVD’s, charts, etc) are the stuff. What buyers of P90X are actually purchasing is that lean, healthy, youthful physique they want for themselves. The transformation.

It’s also important that you offer testimony, real-life stories of people who have made the transformation that you are teaching, and who have done so successfully. Study the most successful infomercials, and you’ll discover that they consist of about 70% testimonials.

And while most of us will not be writing infomercials, it’s important to remember there are three questions people are asking when you sell them coaching, consulting, or instruction about anything. The questions are:

  • Has this person been able to do what they are describing for themselves?
  • Has this person been able to teach other people to achieve the results they are describing?
  • Will this person be able to teach me how to achieve these results?

“O” is for OFFER

So far, you have defined the problem, clarified the cost of not solving it, told the story of the solution, and helped your reader visualize the transformation through testimonials from others just like themselves.

Now is the time to describe exactly what you are offering for sale.

This is the section of your copy where you lay out your offer. You can even create a subheading for the section called something clever like, “Here’s Exactly What You Get.”

Make certain that you focus 80% of your copy on the transformation itself. You do have to talk about the deliverables (the class schedule, the DVDs, etc.), but that should only occupy about 20% of your copy in this section.

Just remember that as you describe the deliverables in the offer section, you must keep tying them back to the transformation and benefits your buyers will receive.

So instead of simply writing that the buyer will receive “8 DVDs, each containing a 45 minute workout session”, you might instead write that they will receive “8 DVDs that each contain a body-sculpting, fat-burning transformational work out that will help you craft the lean muscle you really want.”

“R” is for RESPONSE

This is one of the areas where copy tends to often be the weakest: the response request. We are asking the customer to buy.

At this point, you should not be shy about making this request. You should tell the customer exactly what to do in order to get your program, your consulting, your book, etc. You should remind them why it’s important o do so.

I often write copy similar to this:

You’re at the point of decision. You can either continue down the path of least resistance, the path you have already been traveling, or you can choose the road less traveled. The path of least resistance will probably result in you getting the same outcomes you’ve always received. But if you want something different to happen, if you want to change the direction of your health (or your relationships, or your finances, etc.) you’re going to have to do something different. Make a new choice, and pursue your new outcome.

And then I will write very specific, directive copy telling them exactly what to do next: “Click the button below, fill out the order form, and we will immediately ship your entire package to you. It will contain everything you need to get started.”

Some people shy away from strong language like this, but the fact is, if you truly believe that you have a solution that will solve a problem for people, why on earth would you not be as direct as possible in telling them how to get that solution? In fact, aren’t you doing them a disservice by not making the strongest case possible?

What to do now

My suggestion is that you use this framework to write or rewrite your sales copy. The key to making this approach to writing sales copy successful is the having the mindset of being a “pastor”.

If you apply the principles of being a shepherd to your readers, and you follow the sequence of the P.A.S.T.O.R formula, my prediction is you will experience more sales, more profits, and more happy customers… more often.

What area do you struggle with most when writing copy? Share in the comments.


Goins, Writer

How Being Mistaken for a Girl Made Me a Better Blogger

Note: The other week, I delivered a talk at the World Domination Summit as part of their Problogger Academy. My speech was on “Blogging with a Worldview.” Below is my edited manuscript, plus a link to download the slides. Enjoy!

Everyone of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves.
–Thomas Merton

The first job I ever had was as newspaper delivery boy. I was twelve years old and really into the grunge scene, which meant I spent most of my time sitting around the house listening to music. So my parents thought a job would do me some good.

The Ridiculous Case of Being Mistaken for a Girl and How That Made Me a Better Blogger

Photo Credit: nep via Compfight cc

Every day, a truck from the Beacon News would drop off a large stack of newspapers at my front door. After school, I would spend about thirty minutes rolling the papers and wrapping them with rubber bands in preparation for my route.

Then I would spend the next hour, walking around town, delivering papers to people’s doorsteps.

When I first started this job, I envisioned myself riding a bike with a bag over my shoulder, tossing the newspapers at people’s doors. But when I tried this, they always ended up in the bushes or I almost crashed my bike. So I stuck with walking.

After the first month of doing this, I had to go around town, collecting dues. This was when customers were supposed to pay for their subscription, but it was also an opportunity for them to tip me.

So I put on my best concert T-shirt and flannel and set out to make some money.

The biggest embarrassment of my pre-adolescence

One of the last houses I came to was the house of an older gentleman whom I had never met before. I knocked on the door and had to wait a minute before he answered. We talked for a few minutes and after paying me, he said something that I’m sure he thought was a compliment but was anything but.

Well, aren’t you an enterprising young little lady! I’ll bet you’re going to be an entrepreneur some day.

Well, he was right about one thing.

In case you were unaware, I am in fact male, not female. Yes, I know that in my bio pic I look no older than thirteen years old, but I assure you: In spite of my inability to grow a mustache, I am a man!

Sadly, the preteen me didn’t just look young. He had long hair, was chubby without much body definition, and worn baggy T-shirts and lots of flannel (it was the 90s, everybody did it). And this wasn’t the first time I was mistaken for being a girl.

But that wasn’t the worst part.

I’m not sure if it was because I was embarrassed or shy or just because the man had given me money, but for some reason I didn’t feel the need to correct him. And for the rest of the time I delivered papers to his house, he mistook my for being a girl. I never corrected him.

Has this ever happened to you? Someone mistakes your name or something at a party, calling you John instead of Josh, or Katherine instead of Kathleen, and because you didn’t catch it the first time, you just kind of go with it?

Well, that’s what I did.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to live with this false identity as a little girl for long, because I quit the paper route after a few months. It only took a little rain and snow for me to realize there had to be easier ways to make a buck.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing kept happening to me for the next ten years. Not being mistaken for a girl — okay, that probably happened a few more times, too — but assuming an identity someone else gave me instead of my true self. And it didn’t end until I made an important choice.

An ongoing case of mistaken identity

According to Trappist monk Thomas Merton, we each have two selves: the true self and the false self. The true self is who you really are; the false self is the part you most often show people. It’s the safe self, the person you know others will approve of.

The problem is that if you live as your false self long enough, you start thinking it’s the real thing.

This was what I did for years as a writer. I tried copying what my idols did and what seemed to work for them. I tried to find an unexploited niche and only grew frustrated when every market I found was overcrowded.

I chased trends, followed formulas. None of it worked.

Looking around at the bloggers I was trying to imitate, I wondered: what were they doing that I wasn’t? Finally, it dawned on me. These people weren’t, in spite of what they sometimes claimed, only writing about one thing.

This is an important principle not just of writing, but of any kind of communication.

The world’s most powerful speakers, presenters, and artists aren’t stuck in a single genre or topic. They’re creating content based on a worldview.

What you say is only part of the equation. The other part is how you say it. It’s not enough to have a powerful message. You have to have a powerful way of communicating it.

And how do you do that? With a worldview that resonates.

How this applies to your message

Take my friend Pat Flynn, for instance. What do you think of when you hear his name? If you’re familiar with his work, you might think of passive income, and you would be right. But only half right.

Pat is not the only guy who talks about passive income — far from it. And he wasn’t the first person to make a claim on that niche. So how did he become such a popular voice in the subject? How did he become an expert? He shared his worldview.

Pat believes if you have a platform, it’s your responsibility to help as many people as possible, regardless of if they return the favor. And if you know him at all, you know that he practices what he preaches. He just might be the nicest guy on the Internet.

That’s why you’ll catch him not just talking about business, but his family and life and all the things that matter to him. And his tribe loves him for it. That’s the power of a worldview: it’s attractive.

A good communicator knows that what attracts people is not just niching down but targeting a specific worldview and making meaningful connections with what people believe.

So what do you write about?

Is it business? Or are you, in fact, helping people live freer lives? What do you really believe, and how can that permeate every word you share with your audience? Remember that what you say is only part of it. The other part is how.

Putting it all together

If this resonates, here’s what you need to do next to create powerful communication that changes the world:

  1. Identify your worldview and pick a fight. Think in terms of what bugs you, of what you just can’t stand. Then take a stand.
  2. Share your message with the world. I like the format of a manifesto, a short shareable document that moves people to action.
  3. See what resonates. When you put your words out there, do people respond? If they do, you’ve got something special, a tribe that you can grow and lead. If not, you need to try all over again.

You know, it wasn’t that old man’s fault for calling me a girl. He made a mistake, sure. But after that first time, whose responsibility was it to correct the mistake? Mine. And if people are misunderstanding your message or just not listening, that’s your fault.

So one last time I want to ask you: What is it that you write about? What is your blog about? Is it what you’ve been saying? Or have you been trying to play somebody else’s game instead of the one you were born to play?

Remember: what you say is just as important as how you say it.

In spite of what your mom told you, you’re not that special. There are seven billion people in this world. So if you are one in a million, that means there are seven thousand people out there just like you. How will you lead them?

I recommend starting with a worldview. Everyone has one. And it’s time to share yours.

To download the PDF notes from this talk, click this link. If that doesn’t work, right-click (control-click on a Mac) and select “save as.”

What is an example when what you said wasn’t as important as how you said it? Share in the comments.


Goins, Writer

Links Roundup #21

A PhotographerBlog of Interest

Teaching in Higher Ed is a blog on PKM, educational technology, and curation as applied to higher education.  The author is Bonni Stachowiak, who teaches courses in business, marketing, leadership, and human resources at Vanguard University.  Check out, for example, her post Personal Knowledge Management Online Modules and Articles – she teaches PKM as part of classes for doctoral students.

 

Citation/Reference Management

Catherine Pope, in her Digital Researcher blog, has some clear and concise posts on using various tools for academic research.  She has started a series on using Zotero, and one of the posts is How to Insert Citations Using Zotero, on how to insert citations into Word.  Finding articles on how to use particular reference managers is easier than finding articles on adding to your word processor, and I expect the directions are similar for Libre Office and for other reference managers.  I am not fond of Zotero myself, as I and others in my library have found the plug in slows down our computers by a major factor.  Have installed and uninstalled it twice for this reason; however, I know that it is popular with many users.

Decision Matrix

Thorin Klosowski of LifeHacker explains the Important/Urgent decision matrix more clearly than I have seen it explained before.  The difference is that urgent tasks require immediate action, while important tasks are ones that serve long term goals.

Ebooks for Free on Apps and Tools

MakeUseOf, a site I’d like to explore more in my copious spare time, offers free ebooks on computer-related topics, mostly of the how-to-use variety.  It includes guides to most computer operating systems, tablets and smartphones, but also tools we’ve mentioned such as Scrivener, Evernote, IFTTT, Markdown, PHP, tumblr, Feedly, and many more.  I don’t know their quality or currency, but it was recommended on the Scout Report’s best of the year list.  They also have a Top List section, which has the best software for various platforms.  Included is a section for the best Android productivity apps,  and the best iPhone productivity apps.

Evernote/OneNote/Notebook Apps

Whiteboards, Webmeetings, Evernote, and Skitch is one of Jamie Todd Rubin‘s Going Paperless columns.  It shows how he captures screens and whiteboards in meetings and marks them up with Evernote’s Skitch to keep them and be able to search them.

Springpad is a notebook software that is shutting down at the end of June.  Springpad users have created a Google Drive spreadsheet with alternatives, including descriptions and features.

Jamie Todd Rubin‘s post 10 Ways I Used Evernote to Plan and Track Our Kitchen Remodel (part of his Going Paperless series), has, on the surface, nothing to do with academic work.  However, it is an excellent example of the power of notebook software to organize projects, making it well worth a quick perusal .

Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog has a brief but useful post Voice Recognition with Evernote.

IFTTT

IFTTT has introduced an email digest channel.  “The Email Digest Channel is a native IFTTT Channel that collects content and sends you an email digest on a daily or weekly schedule.”  There are plenty of example recipes to get you started.

Microsoft Office

AskBobRankin pointed to two useful sites:  WordTips (Ribbon Interface) and Excel Tips (Ribbon Interface).  Both offer loads of tips for using those programs, are searchable, have tips by category, and offer a weekly newsletter to which one can subscribe.  There is also a similar site for Microsoft Windows tips.

Procrastination

Lifehacker‘s post Set a Procrastination Free Block to Get Important Tasks Done discusses the concept of adding a time to your calendar that is procrastination free.  Start off small and build up to create a habit.

Productivity

Chris Bailey took a year after graduating college to intensively study productivity, and his article discusses 10 Lessons I Learned from A Year of Productivity Experiments.  I like particularly his discussion that productivity results from how well you manage your time, attention, and energy.

A Chrome extension called Dayboard takes an interesting approach to keeping you focused on tasks:  every day you choose five or so goals that are most important to accomplish that day, and in every new tab you open those items are at the top.  Should cut down on distractions!

A blog called Barking up the Wrong Tree, by Eric Barker, lists 6 Things the Most Productive People Do Every Day, taken from an interview with Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-hour Workweek.  While I don’t find much new in the list of 6, it is a nice summary of some very useful productivity tips.  In looking at Barker’s blog, I found another useful post – How to Motivate Yourself: 3 Steps Backed by Science.  He’s right – the hardest part of a task is getting started!

Research Management Tools

Readcube has always been an interesting product, as it adds value to reading a research paper.  For instance, it makes references live links when it can.  Also offers annotation and other features for scholars.  Now they are adding more functionality, according to Readcube Adds More Features to Its Popular Research Management Platform.  It includes SmartCite, for easy citation of papers in a Readcube library, integration with institutional proxies, searching literature within the program, and more.

RSS

Waqas Ahmad on Addictive Tips has an article Blogtrottr Turns RSS Feeds into Email News Letters & Lets You Filter Stories – the title pretty much says it all.  Blogtrottr lets you get email digests of your RSS feeds.

Statistical/Data Analysis

Data is increasingly being used and produced in all academic disciplines, including the sciences, social sciences, AND humanities.  So many academics are learning to use R, an open source and powerful statistical analysis software.  Andrea Zellner in a recent Gradhacker post Learning R has useful tips and tools for getting started.

Team Communication

An announcement by IFTTT that they now have a channel for Slack introduced me to that product which looks like it could serve as an intranet.  It has a freemium model, and looks like the free version could be very useful for educators.  “Slack brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.”  It is organized around a good search engine, so you can find any communication, document, etc.  It also integrates with a lot of external services, though the free version limits you to five external integrations.  Among the services are Dropbox, GitHub, Google Drive, Google+ Hangouts, IFTTT, MailChimp, RSS feeds, Trello, Twitter, and Zapier.  The big one I see missing is Evernote.  Please add a comment if you have used it.

Time Management

Francis Wade of 2Time Labs has a library of academic papers relating to time management. The library is arranged with images of the first pages in the format of a slide show.  He and his group do a good job of providing information on time management.  I read his book Bill’s Im-perfect Tiime Management Adventure (and wish that all organizations were run by the principles it discusses) and am looking forward to his next book.

Top 100 Tools for Learning

Voting is now open for the 2014 list, which will be announced September 29th.  This will be the 8th annual survey.  While you are votiing, check out the 2013 list.

Twitter

Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers on academic workflow.  Her article Using Twitter for Research has some wonderful tips for finding Twitter streams for specific academic disciplines as well as other useful tips.

Writing Productively

Kelly Hanson‘s GradHacker post Scheduling Summer Writing integrates a number of academic productivity techniques and tools including setting realistic goals, using calendars and to-do lists for writing goals, and using techniques such as Pomodoro to get writing done.

 

The post Links Roundup #21 appeared first on Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians.

Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians

Don’t Judge My Choices Without Understanding My Reasons

Don’t judge my choices without understanding my reasons.

Some years ago I remember standing in my kitchen, staring silently at my boxes of cereal, trying to decide which to have for breakfast.  Was it a Frostie’s morning, or was it more of an Oat Crunchie’s day?  Or maybe granola?  I stood there for 5 minutes, until – utterly frustrated – I marched out of the house and went without.

5 Ways to Stop Second Guessing Yourself

The post Don’t Judge My Choices Without Understanding My Reasons appeared first on Lifehack.


Lifehack

Should Be Syndrome

In both work and social spheres I regularly encounter people who spend much of their time trying to reconcile life to their expectations. Often you find that their expectations are based on a long list of should be scenarios. For example:

  • By 21 I should have my university degree.
  • By 25 I should be making an X amount of money.
  • I’m smarter/prettier than her. No way should she be picked over me.
  • People say it’s very difficult to marry when you’re older, so I should be married before I turn thirty.
  • My friend summited Mount Kilimanjaro in six days, so I should take no longer than that.
  • It took Facebook eight years since inception to list on a public stock exchange, so my company should aim for something similar.

Many are always assessing what their lives should be like. Measuring yourself against should be scenarios like the ones above will inevitably place undue pressure on you. The more “should be’s” you live with, the less happy you’re likely to be. Imperceptibly this mindset took root in me during my early twenties, until I realized how generalized and inappropriate the should be scenarios I held were. I expected immense wealth and status by the time I turned twenty five, with no idea of how I would do it or any appreciation of the sacrifices that were required.

Before you feel like you aren’t where you should be in life, I urge you to consider the following:

What is “Ideal” Based On?

Look closely at what your goals are based on. How did you determine what an ideal life is? Often we form a picture of the way our lives should be by observing peers and absorbing what the media portrays to us. When I think carefully, it was peer pressure and a relentless exposure to consumer culture on television and the Internet that caused me to focus so much on material enrichment.

Your standards and ideals should be based on your character, values and interests, rather than society’s prescription. Marrying, owning a double storey home with a picked fence, driving two cars and having two kids is a stereotyped ideal that many still pursue, for instance. Yet if you are a spontaneous minded soloist this scenario would probably make you unhappy. A simple apartment, a cat and a well developed public transport system could be all you require to be content.

The ideal life is a matter of opinion and interpretation. It is not a one size fits all package. Rather it is something you have to identify by yourself without undue influence from peers and societal norms.

Focus on what’s Eternal

Eternal values like love, truth, peace of mind and control over your time form the foundation of happiness. When you shed all pretences of the way life should be, you will see that you require just a few simple things to make it enjoyable. Grow and express life’s eternal values rather than pursuing generic ideals. When you do this you may find that your life is actually fulfilled as it is, negating the need to compare your present situation to some hypothetical ideal.

As a sprinkling over this foundation of eternal values will be some worthwhile goals and pursuits. One must carefully select what they pursue in life. Many times achieving what you think will transform your life in theory will only make you marginally happier in reality. That exceedingly expensive watch you have been eyeing for years may draw admiration from acquaintances and strangers, but it will not mend a strained relationship you may have with your partner. The sheen tends to wear off quickly for acquisitions that are materialistic or status-related in nature.

When I started paying close attention to the activities that genuinely made me happy, a short list comprising of things that were either cheap or free formed — things like reading novels with my wife, swimming and cycling. Sure, money and recognition are nice extras that I enjoy working for, but it has sunk in for me that I already have most of what I need to call my life ideal. Goals to me are nice to have extras, not reasons to be discontent.

Stop Agonizing and get Going

Make no mistake, pursuits and goals that are well thought out provide adventure and purpose to your life. By no means are you being asked to drop all ambition and just accept things as they are. What you are being asked to do though is to ensure that your desires and ideals are self-determined, and that they inspire you to act rather than induce feelings of inadequacy.

People spend too much time bemoaning what’s wrong or missing in their lives instead of rectifying it. Imagine agonizing for hours over an unsightly crack in your lounge wall. It would seem silly to spend so much time remaining bitter about the crack when it would take no more than two hours to paint the wall. Yet this is what we spend much of our waking lives doing when certain aspects of our lives are less than ideal. People spend time indulging despair instead of getting out and doing what’s needed to get closer to the situation they want. That great something you want is not as far off as you think it is if you could eliminate procrastination and diligently apply yourself.

Your Time Will Come

There is no need to feel like you’re behind where you should be in life. Comparing yourself to people you consider to be peers is not always wise, because as much as we identify ourselves with certain groups, we are also each here to have unique experiences and insights. My professional career has veered significantly from the friends I studied with at university, so it’s pointless to compare myself to them. Whoever has more money, status or satisfaction between us is irrelevant because we all have different circumstances and objectives.

We come of age at different times in different aspects of life. So let go off what life should be like, pick a few worthwhile pursuits and apply yourself consistently. When you do this, any feelings of regret and inadequacy you have will be replaced by grace and contentment.

Photo by Arkangel

The post Should Be Syndrome appeared first on Change Your Life | The Change Blog.

Change Your Life | The Change Blog

Maybe It’s Not Always About Trying To Fix Something Broken

Maybe it’s not always about trying to fix something broken. Maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better.

With everything that happens around us, it is sometimes difficult to reach our goals. This is compounded if you have any of the reasons on the list below.

Luckily, in addition to the top 10 reasons why people don’t reach their goals, I’ve included a quick fix for each of them. So let’s get to it.

Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Reach Their Goals

The post Maybe It’s Not Always About Trying To Fix Something Broken appeared first on Lifehack.


Lifehack

Personal Digital Archiving Train the Trainer Workshop in Georgia

We are passing along this invitation from a colleague to a workshop.  Please do contact the people mentioned in the invitation if you are interested:

You’re invited: Personal Digital Archiving Train-the-Trainer Workshop from SGA, ARMA, and GLA

The Society of Georgia Archivists, the Atlanta chapter of ARMA International, and the Georgia Library Association invite you to attend a train-the-trainer workshop on Personal Digital Archiving. Designed for information professionals from all backgrounds and levels of experience, this workshop will empower participants to see themselves as archivists of their own digital records and will cover topics ranging from best practices for creating digital records and rights issues in the digital landscape to strategies for storing digital records and emerging developments regarding the digital afterlife.

After completing the workshop, attendees will be encouraged to teach the workshop to their users–the public, co-workers, students, etc.–in their own diverse institutional contexts. The end goal of the workshop will thus be to advocate for informational professionals as a source of expertise for assisting individuals (the public, family members, students, corporate employees, etc.) with their personal digital archiving needs.

The workshop will be held at the Georgia Archives in Morrow on Thursday, 7/31, from 10:00 AM – noon, and will be free to attend. Space limited to 25 participants. If you would like to secure a space in the workshop, please RSVP to outreach@soga.org by 7/17/2014.

Workshop facilitators:
Oscar Gittemeier, Youth Services Librarian, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, East Atlanta Branch
Wendy Hagenmaier, Digital Collections Archivist, Georgia Tech Archives, SGA Outreach Manager
Michelle Kirk, Records Manager, VP Corporate Records and Information Management, SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Please forward widely!

Wendy Hagenmaier
SGA Outreach Manager
Digital Collections Archivist
Georgia Institute of Technology Archives
outreach@soga.org

 

 

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Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians

The Revolutionary Power of Words

Never, ever, ever underestimate the power your words can have. Take today July 4, for instance. In America, we call this “Independence Day” because it marks the beginning of our freedom. And it’s a testament to the power of words.

Revolutionary Words - Declaration of Independence

Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)

How did such a revolution begin? With a Declaration, of course, a public proclamation that went like this:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Powerful, right? I like that scene in National Treasure where Nicolas Cage says, “People don’t talk like that anymore.” I wish they would. It’s time to reclaim the revolutionary power of words.

Whoever said “talk is cheap” is a liar

Words are powerful, painful, awful, and amazing tools. They can hurt, help, hinder, and heal.

But they are not cheap. They are quite expensive.

Words cost something. Like your time and money. Sometimes, they even cost your patience or self-worth. Words have a price tag.

Words can change the world

They have before. Here are some examples of how communication has changed the world:

  • When Martin Luther tacked his 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenburg.
  • When Gutenberg created the printing press and gave the power of thought back to the people.
  • When JFK asked us what we could do for our country.
  • When MLK wrote his letter from Birmingham.
  • When Gandhi spoke on nonviolence.
  • When Jesus gave a short speech on a hilltop.
  • When Neil Armstrong took his first steps (and spoke his first words) on the moon.

Words matter

You know this already. You have felt it. Sometimes, it was subtle, but you knew it was there. The potency of words. It’s immeasurable and unmistakeable.

If you listen to your life you can recall moments when you felt the brutal sting of words:

  • When the other kids called you “fat.”
  • When that boy dumped you for no reason.
  • When your dad called you “stupid.”
  • When you received that letter of rejection.
  • When your boss told you that you were fired.
  • When someone told you that cancer is “God’s will.”
  • When your wife asked when you were going to get a real job.

You personally know the impact words can have.

It’s your turn now

Say something worth saying. Don’t give in to the temptation to just fight back, to return an angry voice by raising your own. Don’t join the crowd of hurt people hurting other people.

Instead, use your words for something else. Something powerful, something subversive.

Better yet, let the words of your mouth reflect the actions of your life. Act first, speak second. But please, speak up. Say something.

Silence has often ushered evil into the world. There is a reason why Hitler gained power so quickly. He could speak. And there is a reason why he didn’t win the war. Someone else spoke up.

Be the person who says something when no one else is. Be brave. Dare to speak and have something worth talking about. Start a revolution with your words.

Talk is not cheap. It doesn’t have to be, anyway. Talk can be valuable. Talk can be rich and worthwhile and a gift to the world. So do us all a favor and open up your mouth.

Speak.

How have you seen the power of words in your own life? Share in the comments.


Goins, Writer

Discipline-Specific Tools: Digital Humanities 3: History

building with poolThis is the third and last, at least for now, post in my series of tools for the digital humanities (DH).  I continue to have the two problems I mentioned in my last post, of there being too many good resources to cover (which, admittedly, can be a good problem to have), and of the fact that DH tools don’t readily fit into one specific discipline.  I’ve divided the last two posts into literature and history, but the tools for one often work for the other as well.  Historians often analyze texts, as do those in literature; literature professors and students are creating maps and timelines as are historians.  So the divisions I’ve created are to a degree arbitrary.

In this post I want to cover tools for mapping, creating timelines, and creating exhibitions. First however, I want to mention a great resource that provides tutorials on tools of use to digital humanists, but with a slant towards historians.  It is The Programming Historian, which offers online, open access, peer-reviewed tutorials to help humanists learn digital tools, techniques, and workflows.  Tutorials are in the categories of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Data Management, Data Manipulation, Mapping and GIS, Omeka Exhibit Building, Python Programming Basics, Topic Modeling, and Web Scraping.

 Mapping/Geospatial Data

Mapping, often drawing on geospatial data, can create rich representations whether for projects by faculty, graduate students, or undergraduates.  Many of the resources for maps/GIS and timelines have come from J. McClurkan’s Digital Liberal Arts Workshop Links and Resources.

One recent mapping resource is Maphub, a prototype for annotating and georeferencing high quality digital maps.  Take a look at the video on the top page to see all the features, but you can, for example, add annotations from Wikipedia, and open views in Google Earth.  Annotations can be enriched by sources that, for example, add tags for geographic references in other languages.

Naturally, one of biggest map resources is Google Maps.  Usually thought of in a personal context, it can be used in the classroom as well.  HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Google Maps provides a nice introduction to navigating the maps, as does How to Use Google Maps – Navigating Google Maps.

Maplib is another product which allows you to make map images zoomable and searchable, and annotate and share the maps.  It also offers the Maplib integrator, which allows you to host maps on your own site.

Some of these products make a mess of the categories mentioned above.  Neatline, for example is a very nice product that fits into all three categories.  It is a collection of tools that act as plugins for Omeka, the exhibition software, that allows one to add both mapping and timelines to an exhibit.  Take a look at the exhibit on the top Neatline page to see how attractively it can package valuable information.

WorldMap is another excellent mapping tool, this one from Harvard: “Build your own mapping portal and publish it to the world or to just a few collaborators. WorldMap is open source software.”  It allows the user such features as uploading large datasets and using them to create layers, creating and editing maps that can link to media content, sharing to large or small groups, exporting data, using online cartographic tools, and publishing privately or publicly.  Click on view map to see examples, such as this Women In the World map.  See also the FAQ and the Profhacker post Using the WorldMap Platform.

VisualEyes is a multifaceted web authoring tool that brings together maps, charts, video, timelines, and data into compelling educational resources.  It was developed at the Virginia Center for Digital History, and unsurprisingly tends to be heavy on resources about Thomas Jefferson, to the extent that the narrator of the project on the top page says that the project one year took a break from all things Jefferson.

Timelines

Up until the digital age, timelines were labors of love, time consuming, if one will forgive the pun.  These days tools make it possible for anyone who can do basic html to create visually handsome timelines. Simile Widgets is open source software that arose from the Simile Project at MIT, and houses widgets primarily for data visualization.  One of those widgets is Timeline, which creates interactive timelines.  Brian Croxall, a digital humanities professor at Emory, created an excellent tutorial, Build Your Own Interactive Timeline.  It uses the timeline and exhibit widgets from Simile, and Google spreadsheets to create the timelines.

Timeline JS is another project that can be created from a Google Spreadsheet or the more complex JSON software.  It can bring in media from a variety of social media including Twitter, Flickr, Google Maps, YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Wikipedia, and more.  Amy Cavender in a Profhacker post on the software points to good features such as its easy inclusion of BC dates and that it resizes properly in responsive web designs.

Another winner in the cross-category stakes is TimeMapper,  which combines timelines and mapping (Doh!).  It is open source,  and came from an Open Knowledge Foundation project.   It is built on other open source software such as Timeline JS, and,  like several of the other programs mentioned in this post,  uses a Google spreadsheet to power the resulting display (see Croxall’s tutorial on Simile as an example).

Mapstory, like TimeMapper,  also includes both timelines and mapping,  but looks quite different.  Basically it is an animated map built on data, so you see the map change as the time and data change.  It is nice, but hard to design well…sometimes the data are slow to move, creating a map that is about as exciting as watching paint dry.  For a good example, see the mapstory of Olympic gold medal wins (note that it keeps running on a loop once you click play until you click stop play):

 

Exhibitions

For the most part, only one software is mentioned by academics for creating exhibitions, and it is Omeka.  It is beloved by all kinds of archivists, but it is easy enough to use that it has become a teaching tool – for example, a final assignment in an undergraduate course might be to create an Omeka exhibit.  Omeka is open source software from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.  Profhacker has discussed Omeka in more than one post.  For example, see a post introducing it and a followup on using it in the classroom.  For an idea of what it can do, take a look at the introductory video:

 

For more examples of what Omeka can do, see the showcase page.

Conclusions

For a field that only hit the tipping point a few years ago, the Digital Humanities is now producing a wonderful set of (mostly open source) tools that allow the creation of an even richer set of content, packaged attractively to draw in the reader.  There is now so much material on  DH that even in three posts I can only cover some of best resources and tools that I have found (see the first post for general resources), and only a couple of subdisciplines, literature and history, rather than the full range of humanities.  I find that I am envious of students who are exposed to such a wonderful array of tools they can use in assignments, and faculty who have new ways to add value to the academic corpus.

Works Cited

Cavender, A. (2013).  Easy Timelines with Timelines JS. Profhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Croxall, B. (n.d).  Build Your Own Interactive Timeline. Brian Croxall, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Lawson, K.M.  (2014).  Add Space and Time to Your Omeka Exhibits.  Profhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Lawson, K.M. (2014).  Using the WorldMap Platform.  Profhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

McClurken, J. (2014)  Digital Liberal Arts Workshop Links and Resources.    Google Docs.

McClurken, J. (2010).  Teaching with Omeka.  Profhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Meloni, J. (2010).  A Brief Introduction to Omeka.  Profhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Nations, D.  (n.d).  How to Use Google Maps – Navigating Google Maps.  Web Trends About.com, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Van Grove, J. (2008)  How to: Get the Most Out of Google Maps.  Mashable, retrieved June 29, 2014.

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Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians

To Be Beautiful Means To Be Yourself, You Don’t Need To Be Accepted By Others

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. – Thich Nhat Hanh

If you really think about it how much effort do you put into routines, situations and people that are not actually benefitting your life? It’s time for a change. Here are 30 crucial things you need to stop doing to yourself:

When you stop chasing the wrong things you give
the right things a chance to catch you.

30 Things You Should Stop Putting Yourself Through

The post To Be Beautiful Means To Be Yourself, You Don’t Need To Be Accepted By Others appeared first on Lifehack.


Lifehack

Attributes and Procedure of Getting CPD Accreditation Status

The term Common Professional Development (CPD) is a well organized approach to acquiring the pre determined specialized education, knowledge, practical training practice for pursuing a certain profession that is mandatory in many countries including the UK. CPD requisites can pertain to several professions such as medical, judicial, research and fellowship programs, logistics and transport etc. as per the regulations in an institution or governmental laws. For instance, according to the CPD rules in practice in England and Wales, a legal executive or solicitor executing full time legal practice in the country (working 32 hours or more in a week), needs to complete at least 16 hours of CPD every year that will earn them 16 CPD points.

Obtaining CPD Accreditation

There are several authorized organizations that offer CPD accreditation programs. Before you proceed to acquire your accreditation it is mandatory to complete your CPD program with minimum attendance fulfillment, participation in several activities as a registered college/university candidate etc. Completing this formality will bestow the recognition of an accredited CPD provider status. More or less the following procedures are adopted by all major organizations that offer independent CPD accreditation to a professional.

Application: The first step is to register and apply for an independent CPD provider accreditation status. While applying the candidate will have to submit proof of attending the CPD program, details, of participation in activities, hours completed etc.

Review: The institute awarding accreditation will take about a month of time to review the certificates and credential submitted to verify the authenticity of the documents before processing the application to the final stage where the accreditation awarded to the CPD provider.

Accreditation Awarding and Conditions: The final stage is the accreditation awarding when the candidate is assigned a particular date when he will receive the status of accredited independent CPD provider and gain the privilege of promoting himself in the professional domain to set a milestone in his career. He will then have the facility to approach potential clients or join any institute as an accredited member. To ensure that the accreditation remains valid for lifetime, keep updating it as and when there are any changes in the terms and conditions introduced in the regulations of the particular profession.

Benefits of Acquiring Independent CPD Provider Accreditation;

  • Gain better client prospects as an established accredited professional
  • Beat the competitors in the professional world and get exposure to premium career opportunities
  • Explore the new job opportunities for which you meet the criteria of accreditation requirements
  • Build a network of clientele with whom you can keep pursuing your profession with peak high progress

The CPD obligations are formulated in accordance with requirement of the essential and advanced skills and education to pursue any said profession with complete accuracy. Many organizations have strict codes for CPD fulfillment of the all the recruits. However the independent professionals not yet associated with any organization or enterprise, in their own interest can opt for taking CPD to ease out their way to getting hired and setting firm foot in the professional world.