50 Things I’m Grateful For, Fall 2017 Edition

When I started my business in 2012, I knew that gratitude and helping others would play a large part. Each year, I write down 50 things I’m grateful for as a reminder to not take any blessings for granted, large or small. Show your gratitude by sharing your list (of any size) in the comments or linking to your own blog post.

Yours truly at Kent State Alumni Association's National Day of Service 2015

Preparing garden beds for future vegetables during my alumni association’s National Day of Service in 2015. Do I have a future as a back model?


50 Things I’m Grateful For, Fall 2017 Edition

  • Golden retrievers and four-legged furry friends of all kinds
  • Espresso blend dark roast coffee
  • Quiet (a lack of noise and the book)
  • Soothing sounds of nature
  • A good laugh
  • Firefighters, EMS professionals, police officers and first responders
  • The feeling of crossing the finish line
  • Reading the paper while sipping a latte
  • Our wounded veterans and those who never make it home
  • Cracking open a peanut at the ballgame
  • Fireworks
  • Firetrucks in a parade
  • Fourth of July
  • Sending a card to celebrate, console, thank or say hello
  • Lunch with friendsGetting lost in a good book
  • A Swenson’s Salad Boy burger
  • My family’s health and happiness
  • Live music on a summer night, cold brew in hand
  • Solving a crossword puzzle over coffee
  • The small business journey
  • A sunset over water
  • A handwritten note
  • The sun shining on my face during a trail run
  • That sibling bond
We're celebrating 5 years in business!

CCC turned five in May!

  • CCC’s 5th anniversary
  • A day or night at the ballpark
  • The feel of a felt tip pen on paper
  • Lunch on a patio under blue, clear skies
  • Waving to the train conductor while running through the Summit Metro Parks
  • Enjoying the beauty of nature in the middle of the city
  • Bright ideas and brainstorming sessions
  • The ability to unplug (occasionally)
  • Good advice
  • My night owl nature
  • A beautiful fall day
  • Helping clients achieve success
  • Small wins
  • Contributing to something bigger than myself
  • Accomplishing something I’ve worked hard for
  • A conversation with a longtime friend
  • Hitting the trails
  • Exploring Main Street in Park City, Utah
  • Talking shop with fellow marketing professionals & small business owners
  • Learning

 

  • A place to call home
  • The ability to donate platelets to help others
  • When social media is used for good
  • Writing, writing, writing (and reading)
  • Strong women, in fiction and real life

There’s so much in life to be grateful for. What’s on your list?

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about gratitude, hopes and dreams, your marketing needs or otherwise):

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4 Retro Ways to Connect with Modern Audiences

Everywhere we look lately, from entertainment to business, what’s old is new again. Well established franchises are selling out movie theaters, the toy aisle is straight out of the eighties and businesses everywhere are turning back the clock to stand out in this fast-paced, digital world.

Clearly Conveyed Communications -- We give you a voice.

How can you go retro to connect with customers and grow your business today?

Make it personal with a handwritten note. When you receive a handwritten note, card or letter, it feels more personal. The recipient will appreciate that you took the time to put your thoughts on paper. The next time you want to thank a loyal customer or employee, don’t send an email. Jot down why you appreciate the recipient and how much you value the relationship, job he’s doing, etc. A little writing will go a long way!

How House of Cards is Winning the Marketing Game

Develop long-term relationships. Relationship marketing is a buzzword today, but the concept is straight out of a bygone era. Take the time to get to know your clients and employees, business partners and vendors. Let them know you’re in it for the long haul, not just a short-term sale. People want to do business with people they trust and that takes time to develop.

Give your audience your undivided attention. Viewers loved the alcohol carts in offices on Mad Men, but many of them missed the point. The ad men (and few women) would sit down and spend time with their clients when they stopped in. They weren’t too busy running from meeting to meeting to listen to their clients’ challenges and concerns. Many creative solutions were born over Old Fashioneds with no outside interruptions.

Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

Embrace paper in the digital age. In an age of email and the cloud, using paper is one way to grab recipients’ waning attention. Feature direct mail in your next marketing campaign, and reorder your physical business cards. In fact, go old school — embossing, engraving, bold lettering and colors set off with white space — to stand out from your competition. Going all digital removes your audience’s sense of touch, which limits their sensory experience while interacting with your brand.

In Summary

Handwritten notes, developing long-term relationships, giving your undivided attention and embracing paper will help you connect with today’s audiences. Don’t be afraid to be different, even if that means being inspired by a bygone era.

We’re grabbing our fedoras to head out for Old Fashioneds and Vodka Martinis with clients. Care to join us?

Embracing the future with help from the past,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about building relationships, your communications needs or otherwise):
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Get the Party Started: 5 Ways to Revamp Your Blogging Techniques

CCC is excited to welcome guest contributor, Katrina Manning! You can learn more about Katrina at the end of her article. 

When it comes to marketing your business, one of your most critical tools is blogging. For starters, it gives you an effective way to communicate with your customers. Secondly, it can help boost the SEO of your website. Yet, is your blog still having trouble getting noticed? There isn’t any question that blogs have a lot of competition. In order to get people to read your blog, you need to make it easy to find, produce high-quality and relevant content and have a design aesthetic that appeals to the contemporary viewer.

Revamp your blogging techniques to invite more readers to the party!

Revamp your blogging techniques to invite more readers to the party!

Here are five tips for revamping your blogging techniques:

Keep your content original and interesting

It should be common sense to understand that people only want to read articles that are original and interesting. Yet, you may be surprised to see that there are thousands of blogs with copied and illogical articles that cause most viewers to shake their heads and never return to those spammy sites again. When it comes to revamping your blogging techniques, you might want to take inventory of your current article cache. Do they provide relevant and informative content? Are they original? If not, it may be time to do some housekeeping. You don’t want search engines to pass over your blog. Use keyword searches to look for fresh ideas, or offer a different angle on a popular topic. Just make sure you are not writing the same types of articles found on almost every other blog within your niche.

 

Put mobile first

In 2015, Google announced that more searches were performed on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries. In fact, U.S. web designers always advise building sites that are mobile-first, then creating desktop versions. Smartphone screens are getting larger, and tablets continue to increase in popularity. Many users enjoy the card-style layouts, made trendy by Pinterest. This might be something to consider with regard to revamping the overall look of your blog.

 

Think of video

When it comes to external communication strategies, brands are increasingly focusing on video and — the buzzword for 2016 — virtual reality. Although video is helping to strengthen messages many brands are trying to convey, content isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Think of the stories that videos tell, different formats and even videos with no sound. If you can successfully integrate video with content and perhaps start dabbling in virtual reality, you’ll have something superior on your hands.

 

Work on your social media profiles

One of the most cost-efficient methods of advertising is through social media. With that being said, you should make sure you cross-link your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn with your blog. In addition, you need a voice of your brand to promote your blog posts throughout your social media platforms. Do this on a consistent basis to get the word out and drive more traffic.

 

Connect with readers

One thing that readers will value is a personal connection. Other than your content, there isn’t anything to keep your readers coming back to your blog. On the other hand, if they have an outlet to share their thoughts and get the sense that a response will be made, they might be more inclined to revisit. Compare this to your personal Facebook page. When you post about something you like, do you not go back to see if any of your friends liked or commented on your post? When one of your readers has the opportunity to comment on your articles, they may come back to see if you’ve responded or if anyone else has responded.

On top of that, you can create an email list of willing subscribers by placing an optional subscription link on your blog. You can make it non-optional, but people don’t like to feel they were forced into doing things. If you make it optional, you have a higher likelihood that the people who signed up will be more receptive to your messages. When you email your subscribers with your updates, you can use your real voice to give it a more personal touch. You can be a subject matter expert and still appeal to the human trait of desiring companionship. People don’t want to feel like a number, they want to feel important.

As markets and personal preferences change, so should your blog. Performing a revamp every several years isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for business.

Katrina Manning is a web writer and editor with over six years of experience penning content for a wide variety of sites and publications, such as Yahoo! Small Business Advisor, IBM, The Purple Cow Agency blog, Sweet Lemon Magazine, Udemy, Business 2 Community, Personal Finance Hub, The Iowa City Owl, Newsiosity and Seven12 Magazine. 

Are Company Blogs (As We Know Them) Nearing Their End?

At the end of last year, a local icon in our community closed its doors. While it’s the end of an era, it’s not the end of West Point Market. The legendary gourmet specialty food store is reinventing itself to thrive against increased competition by reopening a smaller flagship store and eventually opening satellite stores in suburbs surrounding Akron.

Blogging by Carla Arena via CC BY-NC 2.0

Are centralized company blogs moving to a multitude of satellite locations? (Image courtesy of Carla Arena: http://bit.ly/2h3GzIx)

What’s that have to do with blogging you ask?

The future of blogging is starting to take shape, and we’re questioning whether it will revolve around centralized blogs at all.

First, LinkedIn opened its publishing platform to everyone. Earlier this year, Facebook expanded its Instant Articles program to all publishers. If Twitter ever decides to abolish its 140-character limit, its own publishing platform will be quick to follow. Of course, we also have SlideShare, Periscope, SnapChat and so on.

What do all of the previously mentioned platforms have in common? You publish content directly on them instead of sharing articles or links from other locations, like your company blog.

Of course, the company blog has become popular due to several factors, including:

  • drawing regular traffic to your company’s website
  • improving your site’s SEO with fresh, organic content
  • hosting your thoughts on owned real estate, not rented
  • positioning members of your company as thought leaders in your industry

We’re not pushing for the end of the company blog; it just seems inevitable at some point. Or will companies keep blogs on their websites but reduce the number of posts or switch to more of a micro-blogging format (i.e. short videos, pictures, fewer words)?

As we move further into an era of satellite publishing, how will you adapt? Hire more content writers? Kill the company blog and divvy up platforms between contributors? Ask your employees to shoulder more of the load?

The future of blogging is closer than it appears. Will centralized company blogs still exist?

Looking forward to your thoughts,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about blogging, your writing needs or otherwise):
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2015: Storytelling, Platelets & Facebook, Oh My!

2015: what a long, strange road it’s been.

Our visitors and views climbed for the 4th straight year!

Thank you for visiting the CCC blog this year! We’re excited to see an increase in visitors and views for the 4th straight year, each year of our existence.

We publish a wide range of content and that showed in the diversity of our most viewed posts in 2015.

Our top 5 posts as voted by your eyeballs:

  1. The Psychology of Color: Following Guides or Going With Your Gut?
  2. To Give or Not To Give…
  3. 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Facebook
  4. Kindness in the Workplace: A Guide for Your Organization
  5. Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

Bonus: Things I Carry: Pen and Paper (missed the top 5 by 1 view)

As wide-ranging as our content is, it all leads back to our four main categories: marketing, writing, social media and personal reflection (including entrepreneurship/small business).

Our fourth most viewed post this year was written by one of our contributors, Carol Preibis from Ahh the Simple Life. If you would like to contribute an article (or series), check out our guest blogger invite.

We’ve had contributors from all over the world, just like our audience. Here are the top 5 countries that read our blog:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Brazil
  4. India
  5. Canada

How did our visitors find us? Search engines refer most of our traffic, although social media plays a role too. Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook all sent readers to our front door.

We look at analytics to help us craft future content, but we’d love to hear from you! Are there any subjects that you’d love to see an article on in 2016? How about follow-ups to any articles you’ve read? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or contact us to make your voice heard.

Chime in on 2015 (and beyond)!

What was your favorite article or series on the CCC blog?
What country do you join us from?
How did you first find the CCC blog?
What topic(s) would you like to see covered in 2016?
How will you ring in the New Year?

As we count down toward the ball drop, enjoy one of my favorite memories of last year.

In 2016, may we all be champions.

Happy New Year!
Jaime

Let’s chat (about content, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Small Business Saturday: FREE Writing Guide

It’s Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving that is set aside each year to celebrate and support small businesses. We appreciate the love, but we hope that you support small businesses the rest of the year too.

Blue

Why?

  • Nearly 80% of small businesses are self-employed individuals.^
  • Businesses with fewer than 5 employees make up 62% of all businesses in the U.S.*
  • Small businesses employ nearly half of the U.S. private workforce.`
  • Since 1995, small businesses have created 64% of net new jobs in the U.S.`

Who are small business owners? Your sister, father, cousin, landscaper, handyman, dog groomer, designer, accountant and friend. We live in your neighborhood, vote on local issues and help strengthen the local economy.

In honor of Small Business Saturday 2015, we’re giving away a FREE writing guide, The Power of the Pen: 5 Steps to Writing That Produces Results

More people than ever are expected to write today (i.e. blogging, company newsletters, social media), but some people just aren’t comfortable with the written word. We hope this writing guide helps you become more comfortable with your craft and achieve the results you want.

Of course, some people would rather focus on what they do best and leave the writing, marketing or social media to someone else. If that’s you, we’d love to help. Let’s talk to see if we’d be a good fit for you.

Now let’s hit Main Street and support some small businesses today!

A proud small business owner,
Jaime

p.s. Let me know what you think of the writing guide!

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Sources:
^ NASE | * US Small Business Administration | ` Inc.

Why Grammar Still Matters (Even on a Smartphone)

Does your email signature on your smartphone contain the following disclaimer?

Sent from [insert smartphone model here]. Please excuse misspellings, typos and grammatical errors.

Sorry, it won’t save you.

This post is being typed on a smartphone, but I don’t expect you to excuse any errors. In fact, I’m embarrassed when I spot an error, even a minor one, in an old post.

Today, even in our 24/7, hyper charged world, grammar matters. Why?

Great advice from Grammarly: Spellcheck yourself before you wreck yourself.

1) It impacts your credibility.

Want to be a thought leader or subject matter expert? That’s hard when people struggle to read your thoughts. No matter the subject, readers will judge you for misspelled words and missing punctuation, which will change the conversation from what you had intended. Keep the focus on your knowledge, so you can impress.

2) Bad grammar makes you look unprofessional.

Go ahead: submit a resume, cover letter or business proposal with grammatical errors. You probably won’t be receiving good news. Business emails, texts and letters also reflect on you, so take time to proofread. It could be the difference between a thriving partnership or career and a missed opportunity.

Read: The Power of the (Red) Pen

3) It screams “stop getting social with us.”

We live in a digital world, so businesses need to get social to survive — and thrive. Customers, fans and prospects won’t share your posts if they’re chock full of grammatical errors. Already this week, I’ve been disappointed to see major grammar gaffes in posts I wanted to share, so I refrained. Lost advertising and missed opportunities don’t help businesses grow.

4) Bad grammar is bad for business.

In a recent Grammarly poll, 63% of respondents said they would hesitate to buy a product with grammatical errors. Several respondents even gave examples of what products they have passed up due to poor spelling or punctuation. Think about it. Wouldn’t you wonder about the quality of a product if there was a noticeable spelling error or poor grammar?

But I’m not a writer, you say. The fact is that most business professionals write more than ever today for the company blog, your LinkedIn profile or even an online portfolio. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of emails, social media and other communication.

Read: 4 Quick and Easy Ways to Make Your Business Writing Better

So take some time to understand the writing process or find someone to handle it for you. Don’t laugh; it’s no different than taking your car to a mechanic to have it repaired or hiring an accountant to mind your business finances.

You’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into perfecting your craft. Don’t ruin it with bad grammar!

%$#^%#$&%

p.s. If you’re looking for a professional to craft your prose, or even spruce things up, we’d love to help! Not sure what you need? Let’s talk. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have on the wonderful world of writing.

A writing queen,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on grammar, writing, a new project or otherwise):
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Sunshine Award Nomination From Ahh The Simple Life

Passions are meant to be embraced...

CCC is honored to accept the Sunshine Award from Ahh the Simple Life! It’s an award one blogger gives to other bloggers “who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” Carol Preibis, co-founder of Ahh the Simple LIfe, is a contributor to the CCC blog and also recently published an eGuide, Living a Good Life: Live a Meaningful, Happy and Fulfilling Life, which we reviewed here. Check it out!

Living a Good Life by Carol Ann Preibis

Are you living a good life?

Read Ahh the Simple Life’s nominating post (and learn more about Carol!) here.

*** How does the Sunshine Award work? ***

Upon nomination, bloggers accepting the Sunshine Award should:

  • thank the nominating blog and answer the questions it posed
  • nominate other bloggers
  • ask the bloggers you nominate the same number of questions as you received
  • notify the bloggers you have nominated

*** Ahh the Simple Life Asks and CCC Answers ***

1) Why did you begin blogging, and what keeps you going?

I started the CCC blog on April 7, 2012, during the formation of my company, Clearly Conveyed Communications. Our goal has always been to inform and educate our loyal readers in the ever-changing areas of marketing, writing and social media, although sometimes we take the scenic route.

“Where else can you read about MacGyver, Marketing and Leg Lamp Cookies?”

It’s been a strange and wild ride, but we hope you’ve enjoyed the journey. Sometimes we wonder what kind of impact we’re making, so it’s always refreshing to hear from you!

2) What is your favorite topic to write about? 

Although the diversity of the CCC blog seems to be a big draw, I love to write, even about writing. Maybe especially about writing. Our series on the writing process is my favorite series to date on this blog.

My favorite series on the CCC blog is about the writing process.

My favorite series on the CCC blog is about the writing process. Have you read it?

3) What is your favorite inspirational film? 

While Rocky’s victory over Apollo Creed is the epitome of the classic underdog story, I love Field of Dreams. (We even blogged about it, in relation to blogging of course.) Not only does this movie focus on baseball, it’s message of being selfless and following your dreams still resonates today.

Let’s face it: some people will think you’re crazy for following your dreams, and listening to a voice in your cornfield ranks right up there.

My favorite inspirational film outside of the sports world is Goodwill Hunting.

4) How would you describe your perfect day? 

My perfect day would begin when I wake up naturally, no alarm in sight. After taking in the amazing view, I’d saunter downstairs to brew some espresso for a delicious, handcrafted latte, which I’d enjoy with fresh fruit and peanut butter on toast. The rest of my perfect day would be spent reading, writing and enjoying nature, via a trail run or hike. After a vigorous swim (and maybe some paddle boarding), we’d grill some mouth-watering fish for dinner and sit around the fire, toasting s’mores and telling stories.

5) What is the greatest challenge facing humanity today?

While our challenges are numerous, so many come back to the massive (and growing) income inequality problem. It’s disturbing how quickly people label someone not firmly upper middle class as lazy or ignorant (or both). Teachers, social workers and entrepreneurs may be some of the hardest-working people you meet, but their skills aren’t valued in our society nearly as much as professional athletes and rock stars. (No, all entrepreneurs aren’t Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg.) It’ll be interesting to see how this issue affects all of us in the coming years.

6) If you could travel anywhere on the globe, where would you go?

I would love to travel nonstop, experiencing other cultures and traditions, although I would make Italy (or a tropical island) my home base. I’ve long been interested in exploring my Italian roots, and I love water. Someday, I’ll wake up to a beautiful water view.

*** 6 Questions for CCC’s Nominees ***

  1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
  2. What activity makes you happy?
  3. What’s your favorite song, and why?
  4. What’s one thing that you have learned this year?
  5. Who has been a mentor, role model or hero at any time during your life?
  6. What’s something that your blogging audience doesn’t know about you?

*** CCC’s Sunshine Award Nominees ***

Seyi Sandra at seyisandradavid

Lesley Carter at Bucket List Publications

Tyler Pedersen at The ancient eavesdropper

Lyla Larimore at A Chief’s Wife’s Heart’s ‘aFire

While our nominees are under no obligation to acknowledge or accept their Sunshine Award, we’re grateful of what they bring to the blogosphere. Take a few minutes to visit their blogs and explore what makes them tick. We think you’ll be glad you did.

Congratulations to our nominees, and a heartfelt thank you to Carol Preibis at Ahh the Simple Life for the nomination. One of the biggest blessings of blogging is the fellow bloggers that you meet, and Carol is at the top of my list.

We’d also like to thank our loyal readers! Without you, we’d be writing to ourselves in a public forum. We hope that you continue to find our content valuable and take a moment to drop us a note once in awhile. In turn, we’ll keep on keeping on trying to educate, inform, entertain and inspire.

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on sunshine, blogging, dancing in the rain or otherwise):
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CCC Turns 3! And the Winners Are…

We’ve been celebrating all week, and today it’s official. My company, Clearly Conveyed Communications, turns 3 years old.

CCC turns 3! The swag has arrived.

The swag has arrived. How do you like the retro touch?

In some ways, it seems like yesterday that I made the leap to start my own company; in others, it seems like a lifetime ago. In 3 short years, CCC has gotten social with first responders, worked with international clients and connected with people the world over. We’ve scratched, clawed, struggled and grown, experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. That’s the life of a small business owner.

And small business owners are close to our heart. While we’ve worked with companies of all sizes, we love helping small businesses succeed and realize their hopes and dreams. If you’re a small business owner, drop us a line. We’d love to hear about what you’re doing, so we can help spread the word.

We’re grateful to everyone who’s helped spread the word about us and wanted to thank you. Earlier this week, we announced a contest for those who engage with us on social media and are excited to announce the winners!

The winners of the ‘CCC Turns 3’ contest are:

  • Missy Radecki, Associate Professor of Nursing, FL *** CCC swag prize pack
  • Lyla Larimore, Blogger & Fire Service Enthusiast, IN *** CCC swag prize pack
  • David Rose, CEO at PRSONAS *** Spotify Premium gift card

Congratulations to our winners! We’ll be in touch with more information on your prizes.

A sincere THANK YOU to everyone who has helped shape CCC in any way, from clients and customers to ardent supporters to close friends who serve as sounding boards. We appreciate you!

p.s. We’re still partying! Penelope and Mojo are swinging around the office. 🙂

Grateful and blessed,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on a topic of your choosing):
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CCC Turns 3, And You’re Invited (To Win)!

We’re throwing a party, and you’re invited — to win.

CCC turns 3!

Clearly Conveyed Communications is turning 3 this week, and we’re celebrating with our clients, customers, supporters and fans. All week, we’ll be partying (while we work) at the office, so we’re inviting you along for the fun.

Follow and engage with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the blog for your chance to win CCC swag and other cool prizes. The winners will be announced right here on Friday, so stay tuned!

While you’re here, kick off your shoes and stay awhile. We’d love to help you with your next marketing, writing or social media project. Let us know your challenges, so we can help you with solutions. Have a question? Ask!

To kick your Tuesday up a notch, here’s what we’re dancing to in the office right now. Join us!

Now that you’re done dancing, here’s a chance to win.

What’s your favorite post (or series) on the CCC blog? Let us know below to be entered to win!

(New to the blog? Check out the right-hand sidebar for recent posts, popular content, categories, subject tags, archives and contributors to the CCC blog. You may be surprised at what you find!)

p.s. THANK YOU to all of our loyal readers and followers. We love to hear your thoughts and appreciate everyone who likes, comments on and shares our posts to further the conversation.

Cheers,
The CCC Crew

Jaime, Penelope & Mojo

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