You’re Doing it Wrong: Potential Clients/Leads

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

Last time I checked, there are still absolutes in this world. If I throw a rock at your head, it’s not a feather pillow just because you call it so. And, guess what? Your head will hurt, unless you’re completely numb or drugged, etc. I know that’s an extreme (and violent) example, but this world is so full of opinions and methods that are…well, wrong. The world is also full of opinions and methods that are right—very right.

Therefore, I’ve created a series titled: “You’re Doing it Wrong.” This series is not meant to degrade any one person or any one practice, but to simply shed some light on many wrongdoings in “work world.” However, be warned: I can get pretty sassy. (Perhaps you have already read my Twitter post in this series.)

Today’s topic? The wrong way to pursue potential leads/clients.

My sister bought a house this year—yay for her!—and while she was looking, she subscribed to a few local real estate e-newsletters and such, in order to better educate herself about the current market. When she found an agent she liked and wanted to work with, she decided to let the agent take over, and unsubscribed from all the annoying real estate emails she was receiving way too often.

Rather than find a nice “unsubscribe confirmation” email in her inbox, she was surprised to find a somewhat desperate email about her action of unsubscribing from a particular firm. The guy just couldn’t let go. He even encouraged her to go and like his Facebook page and view his YouTube channel.

Look, I’m all for giving people great resources, but seriously?

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This is the WRONG way to attract potential clients/leads. It’s the old skool form of marketing—direct marketing, and specifically, a cold call (cold email, in this case). I’ll tell you how to remedy this at the end of this post, but first, I’d like to share the actual email from Real Estate Man that was sent to my sister.

Take heed if you have ever done something to the effect of the email below:

Dear [removed],

Thank U for your feedback. I am sorry to see you have chosen to unsubscribe from my exclusive home search website, but I just wanted to make sure I had every opportunity to help you since you subscribed recently with the info. submitted.

Its a very challenging market right now with limited inventory, rising prices & rising intereste rates. Its not a market for the “faint of heart.” Pls feel free to get back to me if I can be of service to you or someone near & dear to you as well in the not too distant future. Thanks so much again. Sincerely, [removed]

p.s. I also invite you to check out & “LIKE” my FB Biz page that is full of Great info., current community events & pertinent market data & info.

(I removed all his other PPS additions, because he added his social media links.)

My problems with this communication piece:

  • Not spelling out words. Be professional and craft a better form of communication, especially if you’re trying to attract clients.
  • Send an auto unsubscribe confirmation email and leave it at that. Asking for feedback as to why someone has unsubscribed from your materials is appropriate, but leave them alone after that.
  • A first time home buyer does not want to hear that the market is not for the “faint of heart.” If you’re a good real estate agent, I’ll hire you to do all the dirty work, and I need to know that you’re going to be my partner.
  • Check your grammar and sentence structure before sending out a “professional” communication. I know I’m picky because I’m a writer and editor—and trust me, I make mistakes, too—but I am always turned off by people who don’t invest in bettering their communication materials. If you’ve been selling houses for a while, I know you have enough money to hire a proofreader to catch glaring mistakes.
  • Don’t ask me to “like” you on Facebook or watch your videos, especially if A) I don’t want to receive your communications any more, and B) I don’t even know you yet. It’s like going on a blind date and then proposing. Things are moving a little too fast…buh-bye.

Overly Attached GF FB-email

I know there are worse emails out there, but this one struck a nerve with me. Plus, my sister later told me that he contacted her again! There comes a point where, if you reach out too often to people who clearly don’t want to use your services, your methods can actually become a form of harassment. You are in danger of becoming like those telemarketers who call people every night during dinner, asking if they want to save the earth by purchasing stuffed honey badgers. Just. Stop. (Not to mention that someone could very possibly take action against you and who has time for all that legal stuff?)

How could Mr. Real Estate have done things better?

  • For starters, he could have simply respected my sister’s choice to unsubscribe. Plain and simple. She’s probably not in his target market anyway, and focusing your efforts on leads like that is a waste of your time.

Grumpy Cat Unsubscribed

  • He could have used a proofreader or editor for his communication. Hell, just spelling out you rather than using U would have made a vast improvement.

Spell out you

  • Moving forward, he should reconsider his marketing efforts and brush up his knowledge on Inbound Marketing—marketing, basically, that brings leads and clients in to you rather than you figuring out how to reach every single market through cold calls, etc. Click HERE to read an article about defining Inbound Marketing, via HubSpot.

Inbound Baby

Takeaway: Don’t be that guy. Don’t be pushy while reaching out. Instead, read some marketing books and current articles, change your old ways of thinking when it comes to building your customer base, and for the love of everything that is professional—proofread your emails!

Stay tuned for next Friday’s “You’re Doing it Wrong” post.

BONUS: Awesome Marketing/Copywriting/Writing Blogs to help you become a better professional:

HubSpot

Copyblogger

Writer’s Digest

AWAI

Jeff Bullas

You’re Doing it Wrong: Twitter

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

When I joined Twitter in 2009, I didn’t understand how to navigate it until I attended a Twitter webinar in 2012. By learning some tips and tricks, I was able to grow my following and begin to utilize Twitter as a valuable marketing and brand-building tool. There is incredible power to be harnessed through Twitter if you know what to do and what not to do. Let’s break things down.

1. Having a confusing Twitter bio.

Have you seen Twitter bios that are just plain confusing, especially the ones that make the handle’s owner seem like Superman? For example: Coffee aficionado, French fry king, innovator, master of sales, parachuter, and world peace wisher. I totally made that up, but I’ve seen many a Twitter bio looking like that. If it’s a personal handle, then do what you want. But if you’re trying to build a brand, sell a product, or increase your platform, your bio should be clear. 

Here’s mine:

Chief / Freelance Editor, , & Consultant / Creator of /

California

Notice I used #s so people looking for a writer, editor, or YA Fiction can easily find me in a search. I also included a URL shortlink to my Amazon Author Profile, so that people can click on it. My bio says what I do and what I’m about, giving people a pretty good idea of what they can expect if they follow me. If you have a website or blog, make sure you put the URL!

2. Tweeting a sales pitch at someone who does/doesn’t follow you.

Since I’ve grown my following on Twitter, this happens more often: Someone will tweet to me to either follow them back (they’ve followed me but I have yet to follow them) OR I follow someone and almost immediately, they tweet me their book, product…whatever. Talk about a turn off!

Engage with your audience first, before you try to sell them something. Tweeting a sales pitch to all your followers is okay; tweeting directly (unless warranted) is not okay.

3. Wearing out the same tweets.

I started using tweet automation this year and have come to love it. I’ve seen it used badly, and I’ve also seen it work really well. When tweets and URLs are varied, appropriate hashtags are used, and the content is interesting–that’s when automation is golden. When it’s the same tweet over and over again, day in and day out, it becomes spam-like and your followers will wonder if you have ANY interesting content.

If you’re going to use an automator, plan out your tweet content, make sure you shorten your URLs, and keep it interesting. There’s nothing more annoying than seeing the same “inspirational” quote over and over again. And don’t forget to actually interact with your followers (lists are very helpful).

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Hopefully you’ve found these examples helpful as you navigate the Twitterverse.  Are there other Twitter “no-nos” that bother you? Feel free to share by leaving a comment.

 

Blog Hop: How/Why I Write & 2 Writers You Should Check Out

Author Thomas A Fowler tagged me in this continuing series of blog hops.

First up: Props to the tagger. Thomas A Fowler and I are Twitter friends, and have been for quite some time. (You can follow him at: @thomasafowler) In fact, Thomas wrote about me in one of his blog posts last year, and, being that I am your typical narcissistic human, it earned him a spot in my “favorite tweeps” list. But in all seriousness, I like reading his posts and tweets, and it’s very exciting to be part of a writers’ community on social media.

To quote his “about” section on his blog, Thomas is a “Broadcast and Digital Producer at a Denver Ad Agency by day, Writer of Commercial Mainstream and Science-Fiction by Night. Bringing you all the Marketing & Writing advice you need as we take on the Writer’s Conquest together.” Sweet.

Now, onward and upward.

1. What am I working on?

I am working on several different projects, though, my next Spirit Lake Series book is taking precedence for the next few months. Since I just released book two, I want to keep the momentum going by getting book three out in a timely manner. So far, I have over 3K words in my WIP, and am super excited to be world building again. You can click HERE to read the synopses for the first two books in the series.

Another project I am working on has to do with the retelling of my exciting and adventure-filled summer in Spain. I lived abroad this year, for part of the summer, and definitely had some story-worthy experiences.

I also began penning a non-fiction sort of inspirational/self-help kind of book. I’m hoping to have it finished by the end of this year, or at least by the end of January 2015. We shall see what happens.  

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My first book, Feast Island, is a Young Adult Fantasy with, as one reviewer put it, “a refreshing lack of make-out scenes.” Feast Island is the type of book that borders between middle grade and young adult, so it’s fairly “clean” and even the gruesome stuff is not as crazy as could be. However, The Wrong Fairy Tale, Feast Island’s follow-up, is definitely more young adult in that there is some romance, cursing, and (at times) grisly violence. The characters are growing up, and I wanted to convey that. I think that the contrast makes my work different from what’s generally and currently out there, and I like hearing from my readers that my books are unique and surprising. 

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3. Why do I write what I do?

Growing up, I was a total bookworm. I was THAT KID who got in trouble for staying up late because I was reading. My dad introduced me to the coolest books, and I blame him for my fantasy genre addiction. There I was, this 13-year-old kid, reading adult fantasy books about King Arthur and stuff. I just couldn’t get enough!

My mom was always cool with my book addiction too, and she bought my sister and I a book every time a book magazine came through our mail. Granted, it was usually Christian fiction, but I managed to find the series that were more obscure and (to me) provided hours of real life escape. One of my favorite series was The Seven Sleepers by Gilbert L Morris, and some of my ideas for my series were inspired by his middle grade books.

I think that fantasy fiction provides a healthy escape from the mundane–or tragic–in life. Middle school wasn’t particularly kind to me, and books were some of my greatest friends. I felt like I could relate to many characters I was reading about, and that I was right there with them, living their adventures. Because this particular genre had such a positive influence on my life, I hope that my fantasy fiction stories will do the same for my readers. That my books will provide them with a healthy escape and the means to see themselves more clearly.  

4. How does my writing process work?

I have been asked this many times, and every time, my process has changed a bit. I think that it’s important for writers–and any artist, really–to continually evolve in their craft. Every story is different, and as such, every story needs permission to be told the way it wants. Typically, I DO outline each book I write, but even the outlines differ.

I have experimented with writing purely on Scrivner, only to find that I prefer Word. I have also tried outlining on Word, which worked well for a while until I went back to outlining by hand. I keep a separate journal for each book so that my ideas are confined, and I focus on that particular story. Oftentimes, ideas hit me at the most random and sometimes inconvenient times, so it’s important that I keep my journal with me to capture those ideas. I DO sleep with my journal on my nightstand and have had a few instances where I woke up at 2am with an idea and wrote it down. 

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When I was living in Spain this summer, I began going on walks around 9pm, my journal in tow. The sun didn’t set until 9:30pm or so, and I was most definitely inspired by the beauty of nature. I lived in Alicante, a beach city, so I’d go to a more quiet area by the beach (avoiding the huge touristy area) and sit on a bench to take in the scenery. Sometimes I’d write down something to move my story forward, sometimes I’d journal about general life reflections, or sometimes I’d simply sit there and let my mind wander. That routine actually helped me to write so much more this year than ever before, and I think it’s important to remember that quiet reflection can be more productive than we realize. 

And, of course, I read a lot. Since I am also an editor, I read for work besides reading for pleasure. This year alone, I have edited 12 books, in addition to reading 30+ for fun. I read AND edit in several different genres, and my brain soaks up everything. Though I can always improve, I have definitely developed a writers’ coach sort of mentality, and I can spot what makes a story great–and what makes it a flop. Because of this, I am that much more nit picky about my writing, and catch so much when I edit my own works.

Tag, you’re it!

http://robinwoodsfiction.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/robinwoods.jpg?w=163&h=201Young adult fiction writer, Robin Woods, was born and raised in San Jose, CA where she earned a BA in English and a MA in Education from local universities. In addition to writing, Robin has been teaching high school English for close to two decades. Her love of working with teenagers and her love of books inspired her to begin writing in the teen genre.
 
Robin’s love affair with vampire lore began at age eight when she was mesmerized by Bram Stoker’s Dracula. She took advantage of her summers off and traveled all over Europe; she even managed to find herself in one of Vlad Dracul’s castles in Romania. She escaped unharmed.
 
When she is not torturing her high school English students or chasing her two small children around, she is sitting in a local coffee shop wondering how vampires like their lattes.

 

IMG_1577.JPGBrea Essex is a wife, mom, YA/NA author, recovering soda addict, and wannabe pop star (but only in her own home). She is owned by several cats, and one cat-dog. Her books, Foreshadow and Overshadow, Book One and Two of The Shadow Imperium Trilogy, and Ouroboros, Book One of The Seven Relics Saga, are available now on major outlets. 

 

Don’t Be a Slob: Organization, Part 2

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

I’m continuing with the theme of organization, which I wrote about yesterday. Today, I want to focus specifically on digital organization. As the “age” of the Internet has become the norm rather than a breakthrough, all things digital are here to stay. That being said, it is easy to become a digital hoarder. (Think: Pinterest.)

Though it’s great to have so many resources at our fingertips, digital clutter can become just as overwhelming as physical clutter. Here are some easy things you can do–this week–to diminish those megabytes of crap, and find zen with your computer.

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     1. Stop hanging on to old e-mails.

  • I personally don’t understand those of you who have over 1000 e-mails in your inbox. Why? If you MUST save an email, archive it or forward it to Evernote for digital filing.

 

  • E-mails should read and deleted; read, replied to, and deleted; or deleted right away if it’s spam. Out of 2 e-mail inboxes, I currently have 5 e-mails. That’s it. And the only reason I don’t have inbox zero right now is because each email sitting there is something I must take care of tonight or tomorrow (they’re each flagged as reminders). Otherwise, they get filed in Evernote or a Gmail folder, or sent to the trash.

 

  • Deleted/trashed e-mails should be permanently deleted at the end of every month. Just get rid of it!

 

  • Delete spam every day or every week. It doesn’t need to be hanging out in your spam folder until the zombie apocalypse.

 

  • Unsubscribe from junk or e-newsletters that you don’t read/care about/use/etc. This can take a while, especially if you’re addicted to subscribing to every shoe deal that comes your way. When I unsubscribed from irrelevant e-newsletters, it took me about 6 weeks–but I did it! My inbox is a much happier place.

    2. Keep your contacts updated.

  • Check your contacts every 3-4 months and keep them updated. You may have 5 Jims in your contact list, all without last names. Don’t be the guy who has to call all 5 of them in order to find the right one.

 

  • If you still use a Rolodex… Just. Stop. Seriously. Rolodexes are like pudding pops. Do they even make pudding pops anymore? (Cue Jimmy Fallon’s Real Housewives of Late Night parody here.) Transfer your contacts to a contacts app (or similar) and never lose track of contacts again! You can even sync contacts apps with your smart devices. (I’m still trying to get my mom to do this, but she really loves her old skool address book…)

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     3. Overhaul your computer documents.

  • Consolidate similar documents and put them into folders that make sense. For example, in my HelaWrite (business) folder, I have sub-folders like: “Clients,” “Payments,” “Quotes,” and “Marketing.” (To name a few.)

 

  • Purge/delete older versions of the same file. Do you have 20 documents of your resume? Just keep the one that is updated and get rid of the rest.

 

  • Do you still have files/documents that you need but don’t use often? Use Dropbox! I have the desktop plugin and LOVE it! I don’t have to sign in on my web browser to access it; I simply open it up on my desktop and drag and drop files I need to keep but don’t use often. Try it out if you don’t yet do this.

    4. Check other storage/backup apps/devices.

  • If you use Evernote as often as I do (which is on a daily basis), chances are that you have a lot of notes that need to be deleted or moved to another folder. Look through all your notebooks and get rid of what you don’t need. Add tags to tagless notes. Put a deadline on notes that you want to read (like helpful articles).

 

  • Also check apps like Dropbox (mentioned in the previous step) and get rid of files you don’t need anymore. Leave shared folders that you don’t need to share anymore, too. You’ll be surprised at how much space you can free up and use for more important things.

 

  • And the CARDINAL RULE of all things digital: you MUST–absolutely MUST–have backups of your files. And I’m not talking about a little USB drive (unless it has some serious GBs). I’m talking about an external hard drive PLUS Dropbox PLUS Evernote PLUS Google Drive… in other words, do what it takes to protect your stuff in case of a loss. 10 years ago, my laptop was stolen, and had I backed up all my files, I would have cried less. Lesson learned. I back up my files at least twice a week now, if not more. You should do the same.

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There is, of course, so much more you can do to become digitally organized, but I’m not trying to overdo it today. If you can get through the steps above, I’m sure you’ll have more ideas in regards to other digital arenas in your professional and personal life that need some T.L.C.

Can you think of further digital organization tips? Do you want to share? If so, please feel free to leave a comment.

Don’t Be a Slob: Organization, Part 1

(As previously see on the HelaWrite blog.)

It’s the last quarter of the year, and most of us can’t even remember the great resolutions we made at the beginning of the year. Though you may know how I feel about resolutions (I prefer setting goals instead), being in a mind-frame of wanting to change habits is a good thing. Why? Because this post is about changing the habit of being messy (or a clutter-bug). 

Spring isn’t the only time to clean out your attic (etc.), so don’t put off a good thing until later. NOW is the time to make a change, specifically with your office.

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Let’s get physical. And by physical, I mean: Let’s explore some ways to physically de-clutter your work life, step-by-step.

     1. Make a list of essentials.

  • What/how many office supplies do you need? Do you need 15 Sharpies, or 5?
  • Do you need a new chair or desk? Is it time to say goodbye to furniture on the cusp of death?
  • Do you need a smaller/larger bookshelf? Do you even need one at all?

     2. Make the switch to digital filing.

  • Trust me: you do NOT need a ginormous, physical file in this day and age. Scanners and even cameras on our smartphones have made life so much easier. Scan and upload important documents, then shred the physical copy. Make sure you have 2-3 backups!
  • Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive are some great places to use for digital storage.

3. Speaking of digital filing: Purge old files.

  • I try to purge my files at least 2-3 times per year. It makes a huge difference, since I only keep a small file container.
  • You should keep your tax returns and old pay stubs for at least 3-7 years, depending on how you filed. (I personally keep all my records for 7 years, just in case.) After that, shred them.
  • Archive prior years’ files (that are still important) by either making them digital OR physically file them in a secondary storage container. I keep both my current and archived storage containers up-to-date.
  • Shred junk. You know what I’m talking about: Those old papers you thought were super important (like those notes from college Statistics that you swore you’d need 10 years later) and recycle them, or shred them if they contain sensitive and private information.
  • Shred old bank/account statements and credit/insurance/school/etc. cards. Statements from years prior can now be downloaded in seconds from most financial institutions, so stop hoarding them!

      4. Make your space presentable.

  • Sure, some of us thrive in chaos and we like a little “creative clutter.” But what about all those times you couldn’t find your favorite container of glitter paper clips? Or that time you spilled your third cup of coffee all over your client’s contract? Find what works for you, but don’t be a slob and keep things tidy.
  • Make your space your own. Make it a functioning, feng shui space in which you actually like to work. Chances are, you’ll increase your productivity.

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     5. Donate anything useable that you don’t need.

  • I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.

     6. Update your resources.

  • Do you have important reference books that are out of date? Donate/sell your old ones and buy the latest edition as needed.
  • Make sure your reference charts are up-to-date as well. An example that comes to mind is a chart/poster that serves as a quick reference for formatting (i.e. MLA, Chicago/Turabian, APA, etc.).

Tomorrow, we’ll look at digital organizing–FUN! Be sure to come back for that topic.

Are there other organizing/purging tips you have that I didn’t cover in this post? Feel free to leave a comment!

Monday Motivation: Read This Cool Stuff VI

Well, I’m not gonna lie: this Monday is particularly rough since I’m working early and got just a few hours of restless sleep last night. But sometimes, that’s how it goes. I could definitely use some motivation today to get me through the week, and I’m sure you’re in a similar boat. Therefore, I bring you three great articles to check out:

1. How to Write Better: 7 Simple Ways to Declutter Your Writing by Jodie Renner on The Write Life

This is a GREAT article. It explains how to simplify your writing in order to have a greater impact on readers. All the tips given are ones I stand by, especially as an editor. In fact, most, if not all, of the tips sound exactly like what I would tell my own clients. Even if you don’t think you’re struggling with consolidating your writing, give it a read. How to declutter your writing is never a bad thing to study, no matter your level of expertise on the matter.

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2. 45 Tweetable Quotes About Creativity to Inspire Your Next Big Idea by Lindsay Kolowich at HubSpot

The title says it all: quotes that will help inspire your next big idea. I often write down quotes I find inspirating in my journal, and when I have a blah kind of day, I look back over the quotes and feel much better after. Check out these quotes and see if you can find a few that speak to you.

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3. 5 Top Social Media Dashboard Tools to Manage Your Social Accounts by Pooja Lohana on JeffBullas.com

Again, it’s all in the title for this article. Not only does this post provide a list of the top 5 tools, but it also gives readers a breakdown of the benefits of using such tools. As your small business, freelancing gig, or author platform grows, I guarantee that you will get to a point where you need such tools. Social Media is everything nowadays, whether we like it or not. So, I highly recommend you checking out this article to see if any of these tools will work for you. 

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That’s all for now, folks. Hope you have a great week. And, remember: if you’re in need of an editor, make sure you contact me! :)

Self-Editing in 9 Easy Steps

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

I write EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even if it’s texting, I consider that a form of writing. Most of the time, however, I write at least an e-mail and blog post each day. Culturally, many of us have become lazy in regards to self-editing/proofreading what we write. In a world where our version of shorthand is “TTYL” or “U” for “You,” abbreviations are the gateway to lazy writing and lazy editing.

Let’s change that.

Since the age of 12, I’ve taken self-editing very seriously. I’m nowhere near perfect, but my “editing detective eyes” have become better and better as time has progressed. Taking your own communications seriously will prompt others to take you seriously, too. Trust me on this one.

I’ve created some resources to help you out with self-editing. These resources don’t replace another set of eyes (or a professional editor), but they will help immensely, especially if you’re helter skelter when it comes to your own writing.

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This checklist is simple and straightforward:

1. Check spelling—don’t rely on spell check for everything, either!

2. Check grammar—ditto to the above ^

3. Proofread your article, e-mail, blog, etc. at least 3xs—don’t be lazy!

4. Review the context/meaning of your wording
-Did you use the right words? (See the common grammar mistakes info graphic below)
-Do you have misplaced/dangling modifiers? http://www.writingcentre.uottawa.ca/hypergrammar/msplmod.html
-Is your message clear and concise?
-Did you cut/edit unnecessary wording?

5. Check your dates & times (if applicable)

6. Check your sources (if applicable)

7. Check your links (if applicable) NO ONE appreciates a broken/incorrect link

8. If you are sending an e-mail, double check your recipient list (and if it’s not an inter-office communication, best practice is to BCC recipients to protect privacy)

9. If working in a Word/Pages document, save often

You can find my checklist on Evernote (I’ve shared it publicly) by clicking HERE. Feel free to copy it to your own Evernote notebook so you can actually use the check boxes that are not shown in this post.

I’ve also made an infographic (my first!) about common grammar mistakes. Check it out by clicking HERE.

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There are, of course, so many more elements to editing, but this is a great start. The resources here can definitely get you through your next e-mail or blog post. However, if you find yourself in need of a professional editor, well…you know where to find me. Happy editing!