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, 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: The Dos and Don’ts of Business Email Etiquette

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.

Your writing pro,
Jaime

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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

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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

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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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Are You Being Heard? Communication Tips For Your Brand

Local Call by Wes Peck via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Communication. It’s so simple, right? We learn to do it at a young age, and it’s second nature. So why is it so difficult to communicate effectively with your customers, business partners and employees?

"The biggest illusion in communication is that it has taken place."  -George Bernard Shaw

Sure, you blast out emails to your customers and employees, blast out promotional social updates and blast out glossy hyperbole in your monthly newsletter. But what are you actually saying?

Before you send another email, post another update or publish another newsletter, read what you wrote—as a recipient. Who are you trying to reach? What would a person in your target audience think of your communication? Even if it’s only an email to a colleague, employee or business partner… would you understand what you’re trying to say?

“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I might remember. Involve me and I will understand.”  -Benjamin Franklin

How do you know what your recipients need and want (two different issues)? Ask them. Observe them (in a non-stalking manner). Put yourself in their shoes. Spend a day in their life handling their challenges and looking for opportunities.

When you take your customers’ needs and wants into consideration, and involve them in your solutions, you stand out in a sea of information overload and tend to be heard. That would make the late, great Gabrielle Bonheur (Coco) Chanel proud. Are you being heard?

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”  -Coco Chanel

Communicate with CCC

What is your most effective type of communication?

What type of communication would you like to improve?

Do you have “miscommunication” issues often?

Do you have a communication question? Leave a comment or ask us on social media.

p.s. We’d love help you communicate with your target audience(s)! Check out our marketing, writing and social media services, and contact us to discuss your needs. Each project receives personal attention at CCC!

Your Captain of Communication,
Jaime

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Your Invite: It’s Spring Training At The CCC Blog

Welcome to the CCC blog, rookies and veterans alike!

Root, Root, Root for the home team!

Nothing beats a night at the ballpark!

With spring training coming to a close, we thought it would be a great time to show you around the place. This blog (and website) is set up to help you, so here’s how to navigate it with ease.

Popular Content

Today, everyone wants to know, “What’s hot? What’s everyone else doing?” Well, here’s our answer. The Popular Content area on the right hand side toolbar shows you what people are reading every day that you visit. It varies wildly from recent posts to ones penned a few years ago. Rest assured, you’ll find an intriguing topic in Popular Content.

Categories & Tags

While we do have a search box (upper right hand corner), the Categories and Tags clouds on the right hand side toolbar can point you in the right direction quickly. In general, our posts fall into one of four categories: marketing, writing, social media and personal reflection. However, we take a variety of routes to get there, as evidenced by some of our tags. What’s the difference between a category and tag? A category classifies the main topic of a post while there may be 10-12 tags or other topics mentioned. Does that make sense?

Archives

Our Archives (on the right hand side toolbar) are like those scrapbooks you never get around to making. With one click, you can see what we were writing about in October 2012 or the beginning of this year. Easy peasy!

Contributors to the CCC Blog

This is where it gets interesting (and fun). We’re fortunate enough to have some fantastic contributors to this blog, who are noted in this special section on the right hand side toolbar. CCC values different opinions and viewpoints, so we’re always open to guest bloggers. For more on a guest blogging opportunity, click here. If you’d like to check out our guest posts, just click on the Guest Bloggers Category link.

CCC Wants to Give You A Voice

Clearly Conveyed Communications offers marketing, writing and social media services, which you may have figured out by our main blog categories. Check out more information on our services, and let us know if you have a specific project to discuss or a question in general. We’re here to help!

If you stumbled across our blog and like what you see, subscribe. At the very top of the right hand side toolbar, you can choose to receive email or RSS Feed updates. Want to read our posts in your pj’s? Go ahead. We won’t judge!

“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.” -George Will

Pitch In!

We’d love to hear from you! Join the discussion by adding your unique voice to a topic raised on a post, or contact us if you’d like a little more privacy. As a communications company, we welcome your opinion and recognize that more voices add to the discussion and create amazing solutions. All we ask is that you be respectful of others while you’re here, so everyone can enjoy themselves.

What topics would you like to see covered in future posts?

What’s an incredible blog post you read (or wrote) recently?

What’s your favorite tag on the CCC blog?

We love trading ideas and supporting fellow blog owners. Feel free to leave your blog URL in the comments, and remember to let us know what you write about. Happy blogging and baseball season!

CCC’s Manager,
Jaime

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Eat, Pray, Love — In Business Too

As I was reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert earlier today, two things dawned on me. One, I’m enjoying this book. Two, the concepts discussed apply to business as well as life (and no, not only for women).

Bring pleasure to your work space!

I bring pleasure to my work space with a couple of my favorite things: espresso and a dragon tree.

In Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert travels the world in order to examine three different aspects of her life — pleasure (in Italy), devotion (in India) and balance (in Bali). While we all may not be able to globe trot to find our way in life (or business), it is important that we understand how to achieve symmetry in these three key areas.

Pleasure

I’m not going to throw a cheap motivational poster at you, but you should enjoy what you do, at least most of the time. We all have bad days, even world-class athletes, kings and queens. I’ve never bought the “love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life” mantra, but it is far more pleasant to enjoy what you do. So whatever you’re in business for, I hope you enjoy it. If not, your true talents may lie elsewhere.

Devotion

You need to be devoted to something (or multiple somethings), so one of these might as well be your business. I’m not recommending that anyone be a workaholic, because that usually doesn’t work out in the long run. But there will be plenty of times that you’re up pre-dawn to travel to see a client or burning the midnight oil finishing up a project on deadline. You may want to be doing anything else during these times (such as sleeping), but devotion to your clients, to your craft and to your business will yield results.

Balance

There’s a lot of talk about work-life balance today. Some people believe it’s an ever-evolving work in progress, while others stick to a tight schedule. However you achieve balance, it’s important that you do. Focusing on only one area of your life for too long will leave you feeling out of sorts or unhappy. A vacation may not be on your horizon, but the smallest breaks can bring balance: sipping espresso on a patio, enjoying a night out with friends or taking a lie-in one morning.

While my goal is to one day enjoy gelato in Rome, you may have no interest in that dream.

What 3 places would you go on your own pleasure, devotion, balance journey?

Fellow Eat, Pray, Love readers, what’s your feedback of the book?

On my own journey,
Jaime

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A Modern Marketer (with an Old School Soul): Things I Carry

As a modern marketer with an old school soul, what kind of things do I carry?

Things I Carry

Things I carry — as a modern marketer (with an old school soul)

Staying Connected

  • Mini Tablet — This little guy keeps me connected while I’m on the go. It’s powerful enough to stream videos, manage multiple social media accounts and drive me around the World Wide Web, but small enough to fit in my bag.
  • Smartphone (not pictured) — How did we live without smartphones? The 5″ HD display brings videos, photos and messages into clear view while the lightweight and slim design is perfect for my small hands. The 4G network keeps me connected, and the 13 MP main camera takes professional pics when I need them. Late last year, I picked up a cover with a kickstand, which provides the protection I need with the slim fit I like. (The two inside pockets are perfect for your ID, credit card or business card.) UPDATE

Power Up

  • Portable Charger —  This lightweight portable charger keeps my smartphone and tablet juiced. The 2600mAh battery provides up to 12 hours of extra power, and is recharged by USB. Micro USB cord included.
  • Water Bottle — It’s amazing how much better your brain works when you’re hydrated. Make it easy to drink enough water by carrying a refillable water bottle with you. This 20 oz bottle includes an internal screen, so you can infuse your water with fruit (without plugging up your straw), and infuse your day with energy.
  • Starbucks Gold Card — Some days, it’s my sanity. As a small business owner, life can be stressful, but handcrafted espresso can make the worst day OK again. Plus, being Gold has its rewards. (I was going to include my battered Starbucks reusable cup, but this looks so much better.)

Kicking It Old School

  • Felt Tip Pen — While I love my gadgets, there’s nothing quite like putting pen to paper. Blog posts, marketing plans and social media strategy all come to life in spiral-bound notebooks with these glorious pens. And there’s something so elegant about writing with a felt tip…
  • (Paper) Business Cards — Yes, everyone’s online these days. So am I. But there’s still something about handing someone (prospect? connector? life-changer?) a physical business card. You’re giving someone a little piece of yourself, a physical reminder of your brand, the business that you’ve sweated and agonized over. It’s amazing what can come from a 3.5″ x 2″ (or thereabouts) piece of paper.
  • A Book — As a writer, I read a lot. I like to have a fiction and non-fiction book going at the same time, which helps me to tackle my two-page (and ever-growing) reading list. So far in 2015, I’ve devoured books on personal branding and entrepreneurship, the power of creativity, changing the way you think and life, love and loss. Reading is an integral part of who I am, so I always try to carry a book (or books) with me.

Odds and Ends

  • Big Red Slim Pack™ — A doctor once told me that I show 9 out of the 10 signs of becoming a chain smoker. How refreshing! So I chain-chew Big Red gum instead. Not any gum, Big Red. I love the cinnamon flavor, and fresh breath is always a good thing. The slim pack is convenient, sliding in my bag or back pocket.
  • Eyeglasses — I’m visually inspired and impaired. My glasses help me see clearly, so I can help others communicate clearly. My Tory Burch frames project a bit of professionalism, so I can play the part.
  • Sunglasses — I’m light sensitive, so I never leave the house or office without sunglasses. In fact, I keep 3 pairs sitting next to my bag, just in case.
  • Lotion — Along with the aforementioned sunglasses, I rarely am without lotion. My dry skin isn’t helped by living in Siberia half the year. So there’s always lotion — in my bag, work bag, car and all over my house.
  • Italian Roots — I’m proud of my Italian heritage, and it helps me every day. I’ve needed a thick skin, indomitable will and fighting nature to climb the ladder in corporate America, start my own business and step out of my comfort zone. And yes, I talk with my hands, so get over it. 😉

Bag It

  • Coach Travel Flight Tablet Bag — The first time I saw this bag, it was love at first sight. Whether flying around the world or around town, I have everything I need at my fingertips without being weighed down. Plus, my hands are free to tweet, message, blog or carry my espresso. And the camo? For a country girl, that’s just a little slice of heaven.


What do you carry?

Leave a list in the comments below or upload your pictures to social media and tag us!

What do you think of what I carry?

Cheers,
Jaime

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Publishing: The End or The Beginning?

It’s over. We’ve reached the last step of the writing process: publishing. Simple, right? Just click Publish and you’re done.

Seth Godin on shipping (aka publishing)

Not quite. After tackling prewriting, drafting, revising and editing, there’s still work to do. Depending on your project, some of these questions may answer themselves, or you may have some more thinking to do.

What medium will you use to publish? 

Do you need to add pictures, quotes or other visual elements to strengthen your written work? 

If sourced, do you have permission to use those visual elements? (i.e. Don’t steal people’s pictures, even online!) 

Have you thoroughly completed steps 1-4?

Are you ready for the world to see your work?

The last question can be an oxymoron. Some people are never ready for the world to see their work, but you do have to publish sometime. You can produce the best writing in the world, but if no one reads it, what’s the point? (This is presuming that you want people to read your work, of course.)

After completing the five steps of the writing process, you’ll begin to understand. The writing process isn’t linear and never truly ends. It’s cyclical at best, and sometimes resembles a drunken, disoriented party-goer. Don’t be discouraged.

The trick is to follow the rules until you learn how to break them.

The real trick is learning which rules to follow and which rules to break. It’s different for everyone. Once you figure that out, then you’ll discover how powerful the written word can be.

FREE Download –> The Power of the Pen: 5 Steps to Writing That Produces Results

Publish Your Comments

What publishing advice would you offer fellow writers?

Are you a “publish or perish” disciple or would you rather take more time?

Whatever your medium, do you have recommendations (i.e. blog services, book publishers, agents)?

What would you add to this series on the writing process?

If you have any writing-related questions, please ask. Or we can handle all of your writing needs so you can focus on saving the world before bedtime (or hanging up your cape).

Signing off,
Jaime, Mojo & Penelope

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