What are good open and click-through rates for email campaigns?

What you need to know about open rates and click-through rates

Before diving into benchmarking and tips for improving performance metrics, we should review what “open rate” and “click-through rate” actually mean. Let’s go over how they’re calculated, too.

What is an open rate? Why is it an essential email campaign metric?

To calculate your email open rate, divide the email’s number of unique opens by the total number of people that saw your email. The total is the number of people that you sent the email to minus the number of bounce instances.

Different types of email campaigns—transactional emails, autoresponders, newsletters, etc.—are bound to have different ideal metrics. You should always aim for higher open rates, however, if your email campaign’s purpose is to raise your brand’s awareness and build relationships with your subscribers.

Different types of email campaigns—transactional emails, autoresponders, newsletters, etc.—are bound to have different ideal metrics.

What is a click-through rate? How do you determine a good CTR for email campaigns?

To calculate your email click-through rate, take the number of people that clicked on one or more links in your email. Divide that by the number of people you sent the email to initially—don’t subtract the bounces. Now take the resulting quotient and multiply it by 100.

As an email marketer, you should be used to the typical click-through rate of an email by now, but it can seem alarming to the uninformed. Depending on your brand’s industry, your email’s CTR can be anywhere from one to five percent.

The click-through rate is more important than the open rate when it comes to lead generation. A low CTR compared to a healthy open rate means that your email’s body needs work, as it’s not compelling enough to result in clicks.

Email marketing campaigns live and die by the strength of their calls to action. In other words, the more people click through, the more effective your emails are. The more successful your emails are in terms of engagement, the higher your ROI.

Other related email campaign performance metrics

What should you remember about delivery rate and bounce rate?

Be careful not to interchange the open rate and the delivery rate. The latter is the percentage of people that received the email in their inboxes. It’s usually higher than the open rate.

The bounce rate is the percentage of bounced emails. Note that undelivered is not necessarily the same as bounced. Unless a recipient’s mail server returns the sent email and tells you the email address no longer exists, it’s not counted as a hard bounce.

What is a click-to-open rate and why should you track it?

The click-to-open rate or CTOR is a measurement of how many click-throughs are received through opened emails. To calculate an email’s CTOR, divide the total unique clicks by total unique opens. Multiply this quotient by 100.

This performance metric shows how effective your email copy is at encouraging people to take action. This is critical information, but very specific. While the CTR is informed by the actions of all of an email’s recipients, the click-to-open rate is only concerned with the actions of people that opened the email.

The CTOR is useful if your main focus is to improve your email content. If you’re taking the holistic approach of refining email campaigns based on the most relevant metrics, it’s best to stick to open rates and click-through rates.

What does a low click rate mean?

  1. Your emails aren’t getting to the inbox: If your deliverability rate is low, it will affect both your open rate and click rate.
  2. Your subject line didn’t interest recipients: You’ll know this is the problem if open rate and click rate are low, but deliverability is high. This doesn’t just mean it was a bad subject line — it could have been targeted to the wrong audience. A subject line about coffee might yield a low open rate from tea lovers, but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tested on a coffee-loving audience.
  3. Your email content didn’t inspire action: Finally, if your deliverability and open rates were high, but your click rate was low, it’s likely that the content in your email didn’t resonate with your recipients.

Increasing your click rate is an art. What’s most effective for your business will depend on the current status of your emails. For example, if your deliverability is airtight, it’s not worth your time to try to raise your inbox placement from 99.99% to 99.999%

1. Practice healthy email list habits––and SMS, too!

High email deliverability hinges on healthy lists. Regularly cleaning your list––removing unengaged subscribers before they mark your emails as spam––helps you actually make it into your recipients’ inboxes.

“Please, please don’t blast your list,” says Katherine Burlock, CLV Strategist, &BAM. “Even if it doesn’t affect deliverability––which it surely will––you’re possibly hurting your reputation by blasting the list over and over. Segment out customers versus non customers, and by brand/collection users have shown interest in. There are are a million ways to segment and personalize so you don’t overwhelm the inbox”

You can use customer behavior to segment all kinds of campaigns. For example, on big sale emails, exclude customers who just purchased the product, since a sale on the product they just bought will probably just cause frustration and a potential price match problem.

2. Start at the subject line

“Keep your subject lines short,” says Ashley Ismailovski, CRO Operations Manager, SmartSites. “I know you just created the most amazing email and you can’t wait to share it with your subscribers, but if the subject line isn’t compelling, they just won’t open the message. The fact of the matter is that most emails are read on phones nowadays. This means that length subject lines could get cut off before you get to any of the good stuff!”

3. Create a content test

Remember click-to-open rate? It’s the measure of who clicked a link—based only on who opened the email. It’s not the same as a click rate, but it can be helpful in understanding if a content test is the best way to increase clicks.

If your CTOR is low, it’s a sign that your email content needs some love, and your click rate will thank you for it. To make content adjustments that actually increase click rates, create a content test.

If you want to make incremental changes, choose one element of your email to change. This will help you isolate a single variable and learn something specific, like if a green or white button is more effective. Another great single-variable test is comparing lifestyle and product imagery. You might be surprised what your audience prefers!

“A missed opportunity for many brands is to A/B test key flow messages with both an email and an SMS version,” says Ryan O’Connor, Director of Growth, SmartBug Media. “Oftentimes one channel performs differently depending on the brand and where the customer is in their journey.”

If you choose the latter method, keep as many variables as possible the same. Schedule your two email versions to go to a randomized group on the same day and time. Try to keep email formatting similar to avoid introducing extra variables that might skew one email to perform better than the other for a formatting reason.

4. Optimize your emails for mobile

“Approach your emails from a mobile-first perspective,” says Ismailovski. “The large majority of emails that brands send are opened on smartphones instead of a computer or laptop. When testing your email design, make sure it looks great on small screens in addition to the standard desktop layout.”

Next, visualize how much information the recipient will be able to view on their screen at one time. The smaller screen usually shortens the text lines, so keep copy concise to avoid a block of text filling up the entire phone screen.

5. Rank your CTAs​​​​​​​

“Use the squint test to check your email design,” says Nichelle Hubley, Founder, CEO, &BAM. “ Squint until the design blurs and see if you can tell where the customer should click. It should be super freaking obvious. If your CTA doesn’t stand out, then the customer will scroll on by.”

Email example to show average ctr

Higher click rate, higher revenue

These tips are great and all––okay, I’m biased––but I want to emphasize that they’re all ultimately intended to help you drive more ecommerce revenue. Driving a higher click rate doesn’t mean much if your revenue doesn’t go up with it, as well.

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Aubrey Harper

Aubrey is a Content Strategist at Klaviyo, where she leads content efforts across EMEA. Her background is in marketing technology, but she most recently worked in ecommerce, giving her a passion for entrepreneurs selling amazing stuff online. When she’s not making content to educate fellow ecom enthusiasts, you can find her in one of the many London parks chasing after her squirrel-happy dog and listening to the Everybody Hates Marketers podcast.

8 email performance tips that work, according to experts

Collect zero-party data––and actually use it

“Dynamic content within email marketing campaigns and flows can be extremely powerful when done well. Focus on specific messaging that aligns with a particular group of users’ interests. How do you get there? Surveys, quizzes, etc. As buzzwordy as it sounds, zero-party data is the key to unlocking the potential of your email and text marketing program.” —Ben Zettler, digital marketing & ecommerce consultant, Ben Zettler Digital

“Personalize your emails. You want to personalize your emails the best you can with the data you have. Personalization will help your user experience stay relevant and keep them coming back for more.” —Tennessee Allgood, lifecycle marketing senior manager, Stak Agency

Make your emails conversational––and you’ll stay out of spam, too

“The reply email is often overlooked. Ask people to reply to 1) engage in a poll, 2) be put on an early access list for a product launch, or 3) answer a question that helps with list segmentation. Just ask people to share and engage beyond opening and clicking.” —Christopher Maroney-Petitt at Ecom Growers

“Use email as a 2-way communication channel with customers. It’s grossly underused, but it has innumerable benefits if executed well for engagement rates, email deliverability, and sales.” —Adam Kitchen, CEO, Magnet Monster

“Use proactive 1-to-1 outreach for your high-value VIP customers. No frills in the design templates, these simple text-based emails or SMS messages build real human connections with customers. Despite the simple design, the experience feels premium and has been shown to increase engagement rate, upsell, and cross-sell.”—Eli Mitchell, director of partnerships at Lexer

A/B test everything––send times, number of emails, CTAs, SMS vs. email, and more

“A/B testing send times is one of the most underrated strategies I see with brands. Just by testing morning sends vs. night sends––or day of the week––you might see an extraordinary difference in conversions.”—Brandon Matis, owner at Luxor Marketing

“A missed opportunity for many brands is to A/B test key flow messages with both an email and an SMS version. Oftentimes, one channel performs differently depending on the brand and where the customer is in their journey.”—Ryan O’Connor, director of growth, SmartBug Media

“Approach your email strategy from a mobile-first perspective. The large majority of emails that brands send are opened on smartphones instead of a computer or laptop. When testing your email design, make sure it looks great on mobile devices in addition to the standard desktop layout.”—Ashley Ismailovski, CRO operations manager, SmartSites

“Increasing cadence––such as adding a lot of resends––can quickly cause list fatigue and drive subscribers away. Focusing on inactive segments––long-term unengaged contacts––often results in low performance and can unleash email deliverability issues. While it’s a good idea to have a re-engagement strategy in place, suddenly emailing a large group of inactive contacts can create spikes in email bounce rate, including hard bounces and complaints, and can even lead to blocklisting. The recommendation here is to be cautious, and ask yourself if the efforts invested in re-engaging inactive segments could instead be automated, and energy reinvested in list growth––therefore focusing on the future, not the past.”—Ananda Farge, senior strategist, CRM and email, Tinuiti

Don’t ignore customer data and signals––change how you communicate, instead

“If an email recipient hasn’t opened an email in a month, don’t continue to send the same content at the same cadence to them. Reach out in a different way. Ask for a preferences update, or offer a discount. If a subscriber opens every email and never clicks, that’s an opportunity for a different type of outreach.”—Abby Siciliano, email expert and director business development, Tinuiti

“Don’t simply point customers to a product page. Point them to an experience with relevant content. The typical experience of ‘clicking around a catalog from an email’ really hasn’t changed that much in the past 30 years. Use email marketing to direct customers to a more interactive experience, whether it’s through a livestream event, 1:1 video co-shopping, or a metaverse implementation.”—Brittany Rycroft, director of marketing, GhostRetail

Email marketing automations are powerful––and still underutilized

“Explore having some fun with your automated emails. Use your abandoned carts, email confirmation and more as an extra reinforcement of your brand. It’s small, but when merchants do it well, it shines.”—Darin Lynch, founder and CEO, Irish Titan



Top 5 Benefits of Creating a Business Continuity Plan

How to Build a Business Continuity Plan

Table of Contents

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a protocol of preventing and recovering from potentially large threats to the company’s business continuity. Such a plan often aims to address the need for updated business norms and operational standards in unpredictable circumstances such as natural disasters, data breach/ exposures, large scale system failures etc. The goal of such a plan is to ensure continuity of business with no or little damage to regular working environments, including job security for its employees.

It covers everything from business processes, human resources details, and more. Essentially a BCP provides a concrete plan to the organization to maintain business continuity even in challenging circumstances.

  • BCP’s relevance has gone up considerably after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and was also a major testing time for organizations that did have such a plan in place. The organizations which had a business continuity plan in place were better able to cope during these unprecedented circumstances better than those who did not have any such plans.
  • The recorded number of natural disasters has increased from 375 in 2016 to 409 in 2019 . Globally, the loss because of natural disasters was $232 billion in 2019, according to a study by Aon .
  • The number of cyberattacks has also increased in all geographies and all business verticals. MonsterCloud reported that cyberattacks have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. All this means that the organizations have to be better prepared to fight disasters. The importance of BCP can hardly be exaggerated in this context. Preparing a BCP is imperative for any enterprise, big or small, today.

The end goal of a BCP is to ensure that the essential services continue to run in the event of an incident. For instance, if there is an earthquake where your customer service representatives operate from, your BCP will be able to tell you who will handle customer calls until the original office is restored.

Difference between a business continuity plan (BCP) and disaster recovery plan (DCP)

A BCP is often confused with a disaster recovery (DR) plan. While a DR plan is primarily focused on restoring the IT systems and infrastructure, a BCP is much more than that. It covers all areas and departments of the organization, including HR, marketing and sales, support functions.

The underlying thought behind BCP is that IT systems can hardly work in silos. Other departments also need to be restored to cater to the client or for meeting the business demands.

“Many people think a disaster recovery plan (DRP) is the same as a business continuity plan, but a DRP is only a small, yet essential, a portion of a full BCP. A DRP focuses solely on restoring an organization’s IT infrastructure while minimizing data loss. On the other hand, a BCP is a comprehensive guide on how to continue the mission and business-critical operations during a time of an unplanned disruption (natural disasters, pandemics, or malware),” says Caleb Pipkin, a security expert at Logically .

Benefits of Creating a Business Continuity Plan

1. Avoid Disruption of Business-Critical Services

One of the key benefits of creating a business continuity plan is that it ensures continuous delivery of critical services that cannot fail. Keep in mind that 2020 witnessed the first known death caused by a cyber attack that disabled systems at Düsseldorf University Hospital in Germany. A BCP can potentially save lives in addition to businesses and livelihoods. It allows businesses to redirect resources to critical services and operations and make smart choices based on the BIA.

A prime example of this is how one healthcare provider was able to withstand the effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. With comprehensive and up-to-date disaster planning as a part of their BCP, Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was one of the few healthcare facilities well prepared to deal with the high patient influx and communication breakdown that resulted from the natural disaster without being overwhelmed. Their BCP even included arrangements for a 24-hour emergency child care center for on-duty staff during the crisis. The hospital’s preparedness enabled them to stay true to their mission and provide critical care when the community needed it most.

2. Build Confidence with Your Customer Base

Creating a BCP and highlighting the efforts you’re investing in business continuity can convey a very powerful message to your customers and partners. It speaks volumes about your commitment to serving them, even during the most uncertain times, and can foster a relationship of trust with your customers who can rely on you to deliver when others fail.

In the United Arab Emirates, the preparedness of Carrefour showed when it quickly launched carrefouruae.com, its online marketplace, saving businesses and customers alike during the 2020 COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. It successfully provided an opportunity for small businesses to reach a larger customer base across the entire UAE. Today, the platform receives more than 1,300 orders per day on average.

3. Meet Your Regulatory Compliance Requirements

Creating and updating a BCP is crucial in heavily regulated sectors, such as health and financial services, and several regulatory bodies require critical businesses to have an incident response strategy in place. Even a few minutes of unavailability can cost millions of dollars in fines and irreparable damage to your company’s reputation.

Lack of an effective disaster recovery plan left Deutsche Bank to deal with a civil monetary penalty of $9 million. In 2016, the bank experienced a swap reporting platform outage and then failed to report data properly for the next five days, netting them the fine for violating reporting requirements. An effective BCP would have included a strategy for reporting swap data even during the reporting platform outage.

4. Mitigate Financial Risks

In services such as the banking sector, seconds of downtime can hinder transactions worth millions of dollars. According to a research report by IDC, infrastructure failure can cost up to $100,000, while critical application downtime can cost as much as a million dollar per hour. Add to that the potential regulatory fines, and even minute disruptions can lead to serious financial consequences.

A BCP with viable recovery time objective (RTO), the maximum time a service can remain unavailable, and recovery point objective (RPO), the acceptable interval between data backups, can help businesses plan for quick recovery and mitigate the associated financial risks.

In 2016, Delta lost more than $100 million in revenue due to a computer outage that lasted three days. The crisis could have been averted if the company had an effective BCP in place that contained a clear protocol for maintaining operations if such an outage were to occur.

5. Gain Competitive Advantage over Others

As we all witnessed during 2020, those companies with an updated BCP and access to virtual technologies were much better prepared to adapt to the sudden shift of having most employees work from home. They thrived while those lacking a BCP struggled to survive in the new norm. By the time the latter resumed their services and operations, many customers had already shifted their loyalties to businesses that had proved their resilience.

Hong Kong’s Centaline Property Agency is a great example of how a good BCP coupled with technology readiness can help businesses find opportunities even in uncertain situations. The company leveraged virtual reality to provide virtual tours of properties during COVID-19 lockdowns. While most real estate companies endured a big blow, Centaline Property Agency managed a staggering 129% increase in their number of website visitors during the worst of the outbreak.



How to Run a Planning Meeting (Checklist Included)

How to run a board meeting: a checklist

What Is the Daily Scrum Meeting?

The daily scrum meeting is one of the five types of scrum ceremonies. The daily standup scrum meeting is where the scrum team meets typically in the morning to discuss the work ahead for the day. They are short, standup meetings, strictly timed for no more than 15 minutes. This is done to keep the meeting brief but focused on only relevant information. Also, the other scrum ceremonies or agile events are meant to cover all the topics that the team can’t discuss during the daily standup meeting.

Everyone from the scrum master, who is the expert, to the team members must attend the daily scrum meeting. They are all committed and expected to participate. Others, such as sales or people from other projects, can attend but only to listen. To keep track of these meetings, scrum masters and managers use project management software, also referred to as scrum software.

After the daily scrum meeting, teams can use project management software to execute their sprints. ProjectManager is cloud-based software that connects scrum teams and fosters the collaboration they need to get their work done. Our kanban boards allow them to manage their backlog and plan sprints together, while the product owner has transparency into their process so they can reallocate resources as needed to avoid bottlenecks.

What Is the Purpose of a Planning Meeting?

The obvious reason to have a planning meeting is to create a plan and get buy-in from the team. It’s the first step in developing a plan and requires that certain questions be answered, such as how do we achieve this goal? What do we know already about it? Who is going to be responsible for what?

When the planning meeting is complete, there should be a few deliverables, such as a rough outline of the plan that has been quickly sketched after answering the questions above. There must also be some clarity about who is going to be doing what in the project.

It doesn’t hurt if you can begin to identify dependencies, what resources you’ll need and which you don’t already have. Plus, you’ll have questions that need answering or require further investigation and research.

A general understanding of what the plan’s scope is should also be established. Everybody present should have a good idea of the plan. Get feedback to make sure those parameters were clear in the planning meeting and, if they’re not, encourage questions from the group until they are. This includes how individuals will coordinate with others on the team.

Key Elements of a Planning Meeting

A planning meeting is only as good as its parts. Those parts are what you have to prepare before even calling the meeting. You want to have all your ducks in a row, so to speak, so that the meeting goes off without a hitch and the plan and team responsibilities are well-outlined. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you’ve addressed each of the items below.

Vision, Goals & Objectives

Before you can have a plan, you must have a target. In other words, what are the goals and objectives you want to achieve. To figure that out requires asking yourself simple but important questions, such as what are you trying to do and what problems are you trying to solve?

Answering these questions will define the vision, which is an important lodestar to follow when implementing the plan. This will also give stakeholders and team members a ramp to onboard to the project. This leads to creating a business case, aligning the project to the organization’s overall business objectives and identifying the project’s benefits.

Critical Success Factors

According to D. Ronald Daniel, who first developed the concept, it’s “the limited number of areas in which results, if they are satisfactory, will ensure successful competitive performance for the organization. They are the few key areas where things must go right for the business to flourish. If results in these areas are not adequate, the organization’s efforts for the period will be less than desired.”

In other words, what are the things you can’t fail at doing. These basic components of your plan must be defined and clear to all. These include the deliverable for the project, an agreed upon budget and schedule, etc.

Having critical success factors in place means that you can prioritize not only the planning process but the project execution. You’ll know who the leaders are, where to put your resources and how to adjust your plan to make sure those critical success factors are always safeguarded.

Key Performance Indicators

A key performance indicator or KPI is something that is of a measurable value. It shows how effective a project is working towards meeting its key business objectives. It’s a way to evaluate success, but in order to do that you first must determine what the KPIs are for the project.

Therefore, the planning meeting must address the project KPIs and, more specifically, what everyone on the project team is responsible for doing in order to achieve those KPIs. Without setting a target to hit and explaining that to the team, as well as their part in reaching that target, the project is less likely to succeed. This is why it is an essential part of the planning meeting.

Key Issues

Then there are the key issues: the things most pressing that must be immediately addressed. Before moving forward with the project or even the planning, there are likely obstacles that must be cleared. This is the time in which they are identified, and a decision is made regarding the resolution and who will lead that charge.

Hitting these points will provide a basic outline for a one-day planning meeting. Of course, you can and might need to have more time devoted to the planning, but that will depend more on the size of your team than the project. Regardless of how big or small your team is, in order to make the planning meeting more productive you’ll want to include them prior to meeting and get their ideas and comments.

Step 5: prepare for meetings effectively

Ask directors about what gets in the way of a well-run board meeting, and next to an ineffective chair, the most common complaint is hard to access board materials that make meeting prep inconvenient or frustrating.

Good board meetings require timely distribution of board materials and clear communication of the board meeting agenda at least 4 days in advance of meetings, and ideally with a week’s lead time. For many organizations, making that happen requires board governance teams and management to spend weeks preparing. And competing priorities can lead to late delivery of the board package or last minute updates that can cause confusion. Not only are directors frustrated, executives and governance administrative teams are distracted from having time to calmly prepare for strategic discussions and decisions as well.

What makes for a better board meeting?

  1. Accessible, online board materials – make all board materials easy to view, search, and add notes to with a board portal. Log in to see complete information, including the latest versions of materials with no confusion around updates. Travelling? No problem. Board materials can be accessed through mobile devices, both online and offline.
  2. Electronic agendas with links to key background info – take the time to consider which strategic topics are right year round, then pre-save strong agendas in the portal – so no matter how hectic it gets, you avoid the risk of re-using last month’s agenda. Link right from the agenda topics to materials for review, and make it easy for directors to foresee meeting dates on the calendar. If a meeting date is moved, directors are instantly updated.
  3. Easy between-meeting collaboration – invite directors to share their questions or comments with their fellow board members. Encourage pre-meeting discussion with the chair or peer directors to ensure everyone has background questions answered to focus meeting time on discussion and decisions.
  4. Efficient onboarding of new board members – new directors are a welcome fresh perspective and energy boost to a board. They can be valuable contributors as soon as they have base education on the organization and the industry – so do that effectively and quickly with online learning tools, including a library of archived board reports and minutes.

Board portal software provides a way for boards to save time preparing for meetings, safeguards the cybersecurity of board materials, and helps to best engage board members from onboarding, through to convenient meeting preparation, online discussions, and voting.

For board administrators, board portal software streamlines the processes for assembling and distributing board books and finalizing a strong agenda with automation tools that make repeat work time efficient. With the time savings of a board portal, board governance teams are able to more consistently distribute meeting materials early, giving directors adequate time to prepare. Board portal software also streamlines the process for writing board minutes with a minutes-builder tool that mirrors your agenda, and makes for expedient distribution of minutes after the board meeting.

For board members, a secure board management system, such as the Aprio board portal , provides a convenient, one-stop location online to access board materials, annotate documents to prepare for productive conversation on core challenges at the meeting, and pose questions or table additional topics to the board chair or other directors. For orientation and ongoing learning, the board portal also provides a searchable library of board bylaws, strategic and financial plans, and archived board materials. Finally, board directors can log into the portal at any time and from any location including via mobile device.

Improve meeting prep

We’re all busy people. Directors are often travelling, and may sit on multiple boards or have other jobs. Board admins are also busy people with demanding schedules. Why should anyone need to spend countless hours trying to make sure everyone has access to the latest board materials when it could be as simple as clicking a button?

Directors will no longer need to carry around a highlighter and pen to take notes on paper board materials. They’ll be able to add their annotations directly to digital documents, even while they’re offline. If needed, they can also share their notes with other board members.

Admins can also add links to agendas, allowing directors to quickly and easily access the right documents without having to search through endless files or email swirls. This allows directors to come to meetings more prepared.

Timely, inclusive access to updates

Creating a board culture of inclusion – which means same time access to same board communication – is job #1 for a board chair looking to create a board that invites every member to have an equal voice. Inviting input through voting, polls, and online discussion is a valuable way to invite every director to have their say beyond board meetings.

Additionally, when board admins have to replace a board document with a newer version, it’s no longer a hassle to update directors. Admins can upload the new version directly to Aprio, and an automatic notification alerts all directors of the update. Version confusion ceases to exist.

Improve boardroom communication and onboarding

Board portals like Aprio provide a centralized forum for board members to collaborate in real time between board meetings. With a board portal, older board materials are easily accessible and searchable in the Library. This is particularly useful for new directors during their onboarding, and is also convenient for any board member who wants to reference previous materials.



How To Advertise Your Business For Free In 2022?

Send Email Newsletters

Top 60 ways to promote your business

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Finding a product or service to sell is only half the story. Now you have to get out there and tell people about it. In the days before the internet and social media, promoting your business meant spending a fortune on advertising or PR services, a high cost for a small business trying to get off the ground. Not anymore.

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There is a variety of online and offline mechanisms to market your business, such as social networking, advertisements, word of mouth and outdoor advertising, some pricier than others. Here are 60 ways you can promote whatever business, product or service you have, whether it’s offline or online.

Create a brand & logo

Don’t be fooled by how simplistic this first tip may seem. Widespread brand recognition is your ultimate goal, and your business needs to inspire credibility and persuade others to spread the word about your work.

You need to create a brand you can build on from the start. Start by taking inventory of your business’ unique value proposition, its personality, and the values that define it. Then you can start to think about your visual brand.

Hiring a design firm may be costly, but there are popular design services on the web, that can provide a selection of custom logo designs for your brand, and at an affordable price. You can even create a logo using an online logo maker if you’re on a very tight budget. Your visual brand may evolve with your business, but you need to start with something on which you can build your business’ reputation.

Answer Questions On Quora

With over 300 million monthly visitors, Quora has now become the perfect place to expose your business to a vast audience and build your authority online. You can start by creating a Quora profile in the same niche or industry that your business lies in and answer questions.

Answer Questions On Quora -Example

Instead of directly advertising your business in your Quora answers, try to make your answers more informative and useful for the audience. You should mention your business and company website in the most organic way possible – as a clear solution to the problem. The idea is to get more upvotes, followers, and engagement to build a community of high-quality potential leads and establish yourself as an expert in the topics that matter the most in your business.

44 Methods to Advertise Your Business for Free

The best marketing plans draw on a multitude of strategies: social media marketing, email marketing campaigns, flash sales, in-store events, even experiential marketing—whatever your business has the resources to take on, take them. Use every opportunity you get to share your product or service with the world (and, ideally, turn them into paying customers).

Start your search with this list of mostly free, relatively low-lift, but definitely fun ways to advertise your business. Remember that each method for how to advertise your business comes with its own nuances and tricks. Business advertising is an art, not a science.

1. Reward Social Media Sharing

It’s great to find new customers, but it’s also important to show your appreciation for those who are already loyal to your brand—especially if they’re willing to shout it from the proverbial rooftops.

Providing discounts to your followers who share your brand on social media rewards their customer loyalty, and gives you a boost. After all, word-of-mouth endorsements are still the best form of advertising around. Engaging with and rewarding your customers is a great way to advertise your business for free.

2. Cultivate a Cadre of Brand Ambassadors

George Clooney probably fetches a pretty penny for his work as Nespresso spokesman, but there are other, more accessible methods for how to advertise your business with brand ambassadors.

Focus on social media influencers who might not be Clooney-level celebrities, but who have established themselves as prominent figures in a circle that relates to your brand. Gaining an endorsement from an influencer strengthens your brand’s presence and legitimacy in that world. If you go this route, though, make sure your social media influencer campaign is legal.

3. Look Within for Positive Word of Mouth

Your strongest advocates for your business might just be under your own roof. An employee willing to share positive things about the company on their personal social media accounts can grab the attention of potential new customers. Therefore, incentivizing that behavior is a savvy business move and a great way to advertise your business for free. Platforms like Dynamic Signal make it easy for businesses to encourage their employees to serve as brand advocates for their employers online.

4. Have Fun With Interactive Content

Who can resist the allure of a clever internet quiz? Putting interactive content on your website, blog, or social media platforms is both fun and informative for your customers. And quizzes and surveys that encourage users to share their results on social media expands your brand’s reach further. This has the added bonus of converting your loyal brand followers into brand ambassadors on their own social media platforms.

5. Let Your Customers Peek Behind the Scenes

Whether you use YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, share a behind-the-scenes video. This could be an interview with a member of your staff, a tour of a manufacturing facility, or a montage of your participation in a recent trade show or industry event. Giving your customers a sneak peak into what it’s like on the inside is another creative way to advertise your business for free.

Giving customers a greater sense of what goes into making your product is a transparent way to interact with your customers, which’ll give you a credibility boost. It also lets you show off your team and your brand’s personality, and define your company’s unique point of view within your market. That’s how to advertise your business in the era of social video.

6. Play Game Show Host for a Day

Alternatively, ask those who are already loyal to your brand to participate in a contest where they generate testimonials or share positive stories about your business online under a designated hashtag. That can generate a lot of buzz in a short amount of time.

7. Put a Face to Your Company’s Name With Live Video

CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs are inextricably linked with their brands. Customers feel like they know them personally, and that is part of the fabric of the brand loyalty that Facebook, Tesla, and Apple enjoy. Using live video through Facebook or other social media channels can humanize you and your business, and make any customer even more likely to become a loyalist.

how to advertise your business

8. Trade in a Thousand Words for a Picture (or Video)

If that adage is true, then Instagram lets you do a lot of talking in a very short amount of time. While Facebook dominates in terms of overall number of users, Instagram followers for certain brands—including titans like Nike and Starbucks —have surged lately. Certain industries, such as restaurants, have been transformed by the platform. And with younger demographics turning away from television and spending more time on social media, there’s a huge benefit to focusing your marketing efforts here. It’s important to learn how to advertise your business using this surging platform.



30 Best College Majors for the Future 2022 Rankings

female biomedical engineer working in a laboratory

30 Best College Majors for the Future Rankings

Top Choice #1 Petroleum Engineering

male engineer working in an oil plant

Petroleum Engineering is first on our list of rankings for the best college majors. It can be one of the most fruitful majors for young students. While the market is insanely competitive, the financial rewards for majors in this field can be incredibly high.

Because of the high competition levels for future jobs in this major, students should consider taking a master’s or even a PhD in this field for furthering their chances of success once they enter the job market in the future.

If you have a good background in math and the sciences, this may be the best college major for you. Although some core courses for this major may be completed online, petroleum engineering bachelor degrees are not offered entirely online.

#2 Cybersecurity

cybersecurity workers

In an ever-changing world increasingly reliant on the use of technology, a bachelor’s in cybersecurity can be a huge advantage when looking to start a career. This major will ensure you’re knowledgable about all of the latest developments in the field and will teach you other information technology related skills like coding and software development.

A person who has studied cybersecurity will most likely end up working in cybersecurity for a business or government entity, but that isn’t the only potential career path for graduates with this college major.

Software and application development, along with several other information technology and technology-related jobs, are very popular options for someone who completes this top college major.

#3 Nuclear Engineering

nuclear engineers working in a plant

Nuclear Engineering sits 3rd in our rankings for best college majors. It is an incredibly specialized major, and the financial rewards can be excellent in the long run for those who earn a bachelors in this field.

This may be a more niche field, but finding work can be incredibly beneficial from a financial standpoint. As the planet moves toward more renewable energy sources, jobs in this major are becoming more in demand, and future opportunities are becoming a little easier to come by.

If you major in this field, expect a bit of hard work and brush up on your math skills. Learning nuclear physics and how nuclear energy works, along with the necessary safety procedures, will be key parts of a nuclear engineering major.

While the employment opportunities for this college major can be lucrative, it’s important to note that a lot of employers may even expect their engineers to have either a Master’s or a PhD in the subject to secure the best future jobs.

#4 Software Engineering

software engineers working on a project

Software Engineering is 4th for top college majors. It is another computer-related college major that has become increasingly popular in recent years. The increase in popularity of this best college major should come as little surprise though, with the job markets constantly expanding in this technology field.

A major in this specialty will likely feature classes in application programming, core computer concepts, cloud technology, and database systems development. It will teach future engineers some skills that will be transferable to other technology related jobs.

Software engineering majors generally find themselves working in a number of different job positions, with software and application programming and development being among the most common future career paths chosen.

#5 Physics

physics majors working in a laboratory

Physics takes 5th place for best majors. It is a top choice of college major for students because bachelor programs in physics can open up a lot of doors for graduates and can lead to someone continuing their education and working in research facilities.

Physics graduates can usually find work as engineers in various sectors or in potential roles working in academia and research. This is a top college major because research roles in physics can be particularly lucrative.

A college major in physics requires potential students to have a mind for calculation and science because the course of study will incorporate these disciplines regularly. It’s common for bachelor’s holders to pursue a doctorate in engineering for advancement and more lucrative salaries.

Easiest College Majors

College books

1. Business Administration

Business administration is one of the most popular college majors on this list of the easiest majors to study, offering a low weekly homework load, less time in the classroom, a great return on investment, and a high average GPA. As long as you have a good head on your shoulders and like to work with people, this is a smart choice for you.

If you want to make your degree a bit more challenging, you might want to consider adding an additional concentration to your degree. One popular option is management information systems, while other students might find economics or accounting to be a better choice.

2. Criminal Justice

Criminal justice is an easy college major not just for aspiring police officers, but for aspiring lawyers, political analysts, court reporters, justices, and more. You won’t spend very much time in the classroom but you’ll need a certain level of emotional resilience in order to be successful.

Criminal Justice

3. Creative Writing

If you enjoy reading and writing, a creative writing major might be a good choice for you. While this isn’t the easiest college major if you struggle with basic spelling and grammar (no surprise there!) it’s a good option for people with strong communication skills.

Creative Writing

What can you do with a creative writing major? You have a few different options – with the most obvious being to become a writer. College students who pursue this major may find that the strong liberal arts background that’s included as a core component in this major lends itself nicely to career paths in journalism, education, public relations, and other communications-centric fields, too.

4. Communications

A communications degree is quite versatile, providing you with a solid liberal arts education that you can use for a variety of careers, including those in broadcasting, marketing, advertising, and more. Consider this major if you enjoy working with others and want to hone your skills in (you guessed it!) communications.

5. Psychology

If human behavior intrigues and excites you, you may find a psychology major to be one of the easiest college majors around. A psychology major will acquaint you with the skills you need to pursue eventual doctoral studies as a psychologist or psychiatrist (two college majors that are decidedly not easy!) or for general work in the humanities. Many psychology majors end up pursuing further study in special education or school psychology as well.


The numbers don’t lie on this one, either – out of all college graduates, psychology comes in as one of the most popular programs. Many college students choose this field as a minor, too, allowing them to get a bachelor’s degree in another subject while still pursuing an easy field of study that they enjoy.

6. Human Resources

Whether you want to work as an office manager, a human resources representative, or in customer service, human resources is a smart college major to consider if you want to earn your degree in as pain-free a way as possible. This major includes uncomplicated coursework and often, an associate’s degree is really all you need to land a job.

7. Education

Education majors tend to have lower starting salaries on average than other majors, but the good news is that by pursuing education as a minor instead of a major, you might be able to make up for some of those shortcomings. Consider majoring in your area of interest (if you’re interested in mathematics, major in that with a minor in education, for example) so that you have something else to pursue if an education major turns out to be harder than you thought in the real world.

Education courses

Another option? Consider an education major, like special education, that has a higher return on investment. Special education majors are more in demand than other kinds of teachers, so you will likely have a much easier time finding a job.

8. Public Relations

Public relations and advertising is another popular and easy major. If you’re one of those people who watches the Super Bowl just for ads or you find yourself captivated when it comes to learning how to craft the best and most fascinating stories, then a public relations major might be the right choice for you.

Tips For Choosing The Right College Major

Find A Major With Plenty Of Career Options

A college major, no matter how easy or difficult it might be, that only has one potential outcome isn’t a smart choice. The average person changes jobs dozens of times throughout their lives, selecting a major with lots of career options is a good idea.

Average GPA Requirement

If high school learning wasn’t exactly your strong suit, what makes you think that college will be any different? Make sure you research the average GPAs of students accepted into your chosen major and also check the school rankings to learn more about admissions standards. This will give you a good idea of whether your major – and your school – is within reach.

Pay Isn’t Everything

Pay isn’t everything – of course, you should choose a college degree that doesn’t just pay well, but one that you also enjoy. That said, you may find it helpful to narrow down your list of potential college majors based on your passions as well as the potential average salary. You do have to think about your bills, after all!

What Tasks Do You Enjoy?

Something else to consider is what you enjoy doing most. While a science-heavy major is going to have you complete tons of research papers, one in the humanities will have you doing more critical thinking so you can pursue a career that is more communications-driven. Consider what activities you enjoy most in high school, and this will help you as you consider the best college degree for your goals.



10 Best Companies To Invest In for 2022

10 Best Companies To Invest In for 2022

Investors could do nothing but cheer their returns in 2021, as the S&P 500 shook off the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and returned over 26% to investors through Dec. 16, 2021. Whether the same will be true in 2022, however, is a question mark. Many analysts expect 2022 to be more of a “stock picker’s market,” meaning the broad averages may be lackluster but there will still be pockets of opportunities. Check with your financial advisor to see whether any of these names match your investment objectives and risk tolerance. Here is a wide range of stocks that may outperform in 2022 based on a variety of factors, from being undervalued to being oversold.

Tesla has continued to outperform expectations for years now, following up its extraordinary 700% gain in 2020 with a 31% YTD gain in 2021 (as of Dec. 16). In 2022, further gains may be ahead. The company has transformed itself into a profit engine, after years of losing money, and analysts expect the company to earn $8.17 per share in 2022. On top of that, Tesla will be opening two new gigafactories in 2022, in Texas and Germany, and this should increase its production greatly. With a market cap now exceeding 800 trillion, Tesla is on a seemingly unstoppable roll.

Atlassian (TEAM)

Atlassian is the Australian-based software company behind products such as Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket, Trello and OpsGenie. The company’s software is primarily for software developers and IT departments, but it also helps small businesses collaborate and become more effective. Atlassian’s growth boomed during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s likely to remain in favor as even more companies are now familiar with how productive Atalassian’s software can make corporate teams, whether they are remote or return to the office. Consensus analyst estimates are a buy, with a 12-month median price target of $338, or about 83% above current levels (as of June 20).

Find companies with large addressable markets

Finally, you’ll want to invest in businesses with large addressable markets — and long runways for growth still ahead. Industry reports from research firms such as Gartner (NYSE:IT) and eMarketer — which provide estimates of industry sizes, projections for growth, and market share figures — can be very helpful in this regard.

Dr. Preston D. Cherry, PhD, CFP

Dr. Cherry: Because growth stocks tend to operate in a growth business cycle or business sector, finding high potential growth stocks should contain metrics that attempt to confirm or support current growth and best signal sustainable growth patterns. One important feature of a growth company is to ask, “do they possess a unique business service or product in their sector that provides a valuable moat?” This service or product is the lifeline of growth where the company needs to market, produce, deliver, and protect better than competitors and new entrants. Performance metrics to consider are whether the company shows historical increases in earnings over select periods and profit margin analysis, which illustrates how a company can manage costs and increase revenues. Other analysis considerations are the technical chart trend characteristics and experienced market analysts’ forward growth and price projections.

Dr. Cherry: Growth and value stocks tend to differ in a few areas, such as company size, business stage, and revenues to return gains to the shareholder. Growth stocks tend to be in the emerging markets or small or mid-cap company size areas whereas value stock companies tend to be large-cap. The size of companies tends to be the lens of what business stage a company resides. Growth stocks tend to be in the early to mid-business stages, the growth stages (although a small segment of large companies can be growth companies too), and value stock companies tend to be larger, more mature business stage companies. The value stock companies tend to be trading at a discount, “on-sale,” or a premium, “overvalued,” to their valuation, thus their name, finding value. Growth stock companies tend to reinvest their earnings back into the company and return value to shareholders solely through stock price appreciation. In comparison, value companies may return earnings to investors through a dividend, representing income to an investor and complements stock price appreciation. This income and stock price appreciation mean a total return approach.

Scott Stewart, PhD

Dr. Stewart: The Gordon valuation model is an excellent tool to illustrate the difference between growth and value stocks. Professor Gordon’s model, with some simplifying assumptions, shows that stock prices equal next year’s earnings (e) divided by the expression r – g, where “r” is a discount rate and “g” is a growth rate. For the same stock price, a lower growth rate necessitates a higher earnings number. Conversely, (illustrated by dividing both sides by e) a high-p/e stock is associated with a high growth rate. Of course, these numbers reflect investor expectations.

Investors bid up the p/e ratios of some stocks because, despite low current earnings relative to their market values, they expect earnings to grow at high rates. These are traditionally defined as growth stocks. Tesla stock is a good example of a growth stock, with its 154 p/e multiple and 73% earnings growth rate (using Yahoo Finance data).

Dr. Stewart: Note that a company’s risk is embedded in its discount rate “r.” As a result, companies with stable earnings will justify higher p/e multiples than ones with volatile earnings, other things equal. Clorox, a large-cap, stable-earnings company with only modest growth expectations (basically 0% using Yahoo Finance data) still justifies a p/e of 30 (using next fiscal year’s earnings).

Empirical evidence suggests that high-growth stocks underperform low-growth, low-p/e “value” stocks over the very long term. For example, the Russell small-cap Value index yielded roughly 3% a year higher than its Growth peer over the forty years ending 2019, and at lower return volatility. One explanation is that investors over-estimate the sustainability of high-growing companies since these “glamour” stocks subsequently fail to deliver on those high expectations. However, there can be long periods in which growth stocks outperform, such as the 10 years ending 2020.

The theory and evidence suggest that the key to picking good growth stocks is to identify the ones whose earnings growth rates will accelerate in the short term (increasing the p/e and price) and not disappoint in the long term (sustaining e growth and maintaining a high p/e). For value stocks, some practitioners suggest picking companies that investors have given up on (ones with very low-p/e or other multiples if e is less than zero), that won’t fail in the short-term and will recover in the long-term. Not easy tasks!



SMART Goals Examples for Work

What are SMART goals?

SMART is an acronym used to describe the process of setting goals. The acronym stands for the words “specific,” “measurable,” “achievable,” “relevant” and “time-bound,” which are essential traits of setting objectives. The SMART method provides a way to measure your progress and be accountable for your success. Setting SMART goals

For example, you might set a goal to “get better” at typing. However, upon evaluating this goal using the SMART method, you see that your goal is quite vague. By restating your goal in quantifiable terms, such as “be able to type more words per minute,” you have a SMART goal that can be obtained. The characteristics of this goal can then be further detailed to reflect the remaining traits of the SMART goal process.


How to set SMART goals

1. Make your goal specific.

The first step in creating an attainable goal is to get specific with how you describe it. Consider it in quantifiable terms and determine what actions you need to get there. The examples below show how you can fine-tune a broad objective into a specific SMART goal.

This example goal takes a broad statement that could present different approaches and actions—like learning the proper typing techniques or not having to look at the keyboard while typing—and makes it more specific by evaluating which aspect of typing can be set as a goal. This example can then be further evaluated to check that it fits the remaining criteria of a SMART goal.

2. Make your goal measurable

toward achieving your goal. Being measurable also takes into account any actions you would implement to help you further your progress toward your goal. For instance, this may take the form of tracking the time it takes you to complete an action or meet a milestone. The following example shows the evolution of a broad goal into a specific and measurable one.

Example goal after “measurable” criteria: “I would like to increase my typing speed from 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute, and I can measure my progress by taking timed tests that show the increase in my typing speed.”

3. Make your goal achievable

After writing a specific goal and evaluating how you will measure it, consider if your set objective how achievable it is. Considering how long it will take, potential obstacles, and measurement methods will all help you determine the realistic odds of achieving your set goal. The more realistic and achievable the goal, the more likely you will be to keep working toward it. Consider the following examples that illustrate a “before” and “after” effect when applying the “achievable” criteria to your goal.

Example goal after “achievable” criteria: “I would like to increase my typing speed of 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute, and I can achieve this goal by making small increases in my typing speed each week.”

This aspect of the SMART strategy also relates to your goal being measurable. With a specific measurable goal, it is more likely to be achievable because it can allow you to see exactly how you will achieve your progress as you work toward the goal. While the example goal of reaching 100 words per minute could be achievable, when related to the rest of the SMART criteria, it could be that this goal will not be achievable in the time frame you scheduled, or that it will require more resources to get there.

4. Make sure it is relevant

When a goal is relevant, it relates directly to a skill or professional development strategy that you want to improve. For instance, if you wanted to receive a high mark on your next employee evaluation, it would make sense to set a goal to help you improve your skills and workflow to progress to that goal. Additionally, any milestones you set or actions you take to achieve your goal should directly influence your progress. The examples below show how the “relevant” trait is applied.

Example goal after “relevant” criteria: “I would like to increase my typing speed from 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute, so I will set aside 15 minutes every day to practice my typing and take timed speed tests.”

5. Create a time-bound schedule

Time-bound refers to the timeline you set for working toward your goals as well as how long it will take you to meet milestones and achieve your final results. Consider if your goal is a short-term or long-term goal. From there, you can determine a timeline

and set a schedule for yourself to meet deadlines and get to your objective. Your timeline should also be realistic and allow you plenty of opportunities to make adjustments to your goal regarding its relevance, specificity and attainability. Consider the final step in the SMART process in the following example.

Example goal before “time-bound” criteria: “I will increase my typing speed of 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute by setting aside 15 minutes every day to practice speed typing and take timed tests.”

Example goal after “time-bound” criteria: “I will increase my typing speed of 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute within three months. I will set aside 15 minutes each day to practice at speed and take timed tests weekly to measure my progress.”

This goal now fits all the criteria of a SMART goal because it shows how specific the objective is, outlines a way to measure progress, is achievable and relevant to the desired skill development and sets up a timeline for each milestone and overall completion of the goal.

In this video, Sinéad explains how to choose relevant goals that are in line with your long-term aspirations, and gives examples of how to specify what it is that you truly want in life, and tailor your goals toward that vision.

Examples of Business Smart Goals

  • Reduce overtime in the department from 150 hours per month to 50 hours per month by the end of the fiscal year with no increase in incident reports.
  • Identify, execute and run 5 customer education webinars this quarter with 10+ attendees and 80%+ satisfied/very satisfied rate
  • Prepare for product launch by developing launch checklist of activity, tasks, due-dates and drive approval by all stakeholders by April 1
  • Conduct at least 10 phone screens and 3 on-site interviews to achieve the goal of hiring new finance manager by end of quarter
  • Gain four new clients for my business this quarter by conducting 3 or more customer meetings each week
  • Acquire 45,000 new online customers this financial year at an average cost per acquisition (CPA) of $30 with an average profitability of $5
  • Increase the reach of the business Facebook page from 35,000 likes to 100,000 likes by July 31 through ads, events, and video
  • Ensure that the 90%+ of the team has completed training on the new inventory management software by the end of the quarter.
  • Secure $10K in sponsorship commitments for our event this fall by the end of March
  • Review all customer accounts above $20K/year revenue and schedule a strategic review with the top 5 with the greatest opportunity for upsell
  • Deliver customer support with a 90%+ Satisfied/Very Satisfied customer satisfaction rate and reduce overall customer contact volume by 10%
  • Present at two or more internal employee per quarter to improve confidence and presenting skills. Improve industry knowledge by attending 3+ industry events and provide a write-up to the rest of the team on key learnings afterward
  • Develop and practice my management skills by conducting weekly 1:1s with my direct reports, quarterly 1:1s with my indirect reports, and quarterly all hands with my team resulting in 10% improvement in employee engagement score at the end of the year
  • Review and reduce the number of meetings on my calendar by 50% in order to enable more time for strategic planning by end of the month
  • By end of quarter, complete course work and pass for CFA certification
  • Grow my network by having at least one lunch each week on average this quarter with an external professional relationship
  • Improve my product understanding by creating, drafting, and delivering two projects using our product by the end fo the quarter
  • Spend 2 days per month building my customer understanding by shadowing teammates in operations and sales; deliver a write-up at the end on key learnings to the rest of the team



Can Anyone Write A Novel or Book?

Planning your first novel

How to write a book – the short honest truth

It’s a simple question, but it causes problems. On the one hand, it’s nice to have people interested in something I do. If I told people I fixed toasters for a living, I doubt I’d get many inquires. People are curious about writing and that’s cool and flattering. Rock on.

But on the other hand, the hand involving people who ask because they have an inkling to do it themselves, is that writing books is a topic so old and so well trod by so many famous people that anyone who asks hoping to discover secret advice is hard to take seriously.

Here’s the short honest truth: 20% of the people who ask me are hoping to hear this – Anyone can write a book. They want permission. The truth is you don’t need any. There is no license required. No test to take. Your book idea is worth writing if you think it is. Writing, as opposed to publishing, requires almost no financial or physical resources. A pen, paper and effort are all that has been required for hundreds of years. If Voltaire, Marquis de Sade and Marina Nemat could write in prison, then you can do it in suburbia, at lunch, at work, or after your kids go to sleep. You will always find excuses if you want them and most people do. Why? Writing is work. No matter how smart you are or how great your idea is, you will have to put in the time and no one else can do it for you.

It helps to kill the magic: a book is just a bunch of writing. Anyone can write a book. It might be bad or be incomprehensible, but so what: it’s still a book and many published authors haven’t done any better.

Nothing is stopping you right now from collecting all of your elementary school book reports, a years worth of emails you wrote, or drunken napkin scribbles, binding them together at Kinkos for $20, slapping a title on the cover, and qualifying as an author. Want to write a good book? Ok, but get in line since most pro authors are still trying to figure that out too.

Writing a good book, compared to a bad one, involves one thing. More work. No one wants to hear this, but if you take two books off any shelf, I’ll bet my pants the author of the better book worked harder than the author of the other one. Call it effort, study, practice, or whatever you like. Sure there are tricks here and there, but really writing is a kind of work. I like this though: it means anyone who puts in enough time can actually write well. Some of our best writing comes from ordinary people from all walks of life.

Getting published. 30% of the time the real thing people are asking is how do you find a publisher. As if there wasn’t a phone book or, say, an Internet-thingy where you can look this stuff up (start with Jane Friedman’s website). Writers-market is literally begging to help writers find publishers. Many publishers, being positive on the whole idea of communication, put information on how to submit material on their website. And so do agents. The grand comedy of this is how few writers follow the instructions. That’s what pisses off all the editors: few writers do their homework.

The sticking point for most people who want to be authors is, again, the work. They want to hear a secret that skips over the work part. Publishers are rightfully picky and they get pitched a zillion books a day. It takes effort to learn the ropes, send out smart queries, and do the research required to both craft the idea for a book, and then to propose it effectively. So while writing is a rejection prone occupation, even for the rock-stars, finding a publisher is not a mystery. In fact the whole game is self-selective: people who aren’t willing to do the work of getting published are unlikely to be capable of the work required to finish a decent manuscript.

But that said – it’s easier today to self-publish than ever. People look down on self-publishing, but I don’t see why. When people buy books it’s not like they care who published them (“Oh, I don’t read Random House books, sorry”): they only care who recommended or reviewed the book. But again, our tragically unpopular companion, work, is required to self-publish so many prefer to keep asking writers how they got published instead of just doing it themselves. You can read what I learned from self-publishing the first time here (although the technology and options have improved since then).

Being famous and wealthy: Now this is the kicker. About 50% of the time the real thing people want to know is how to become a famous millionaire rock-star author person. As if a) I qualified, b) I could explain how it happened, or c) I’d be willing to tell.

First, this assumes writing is a good way to get rich. I’m not sure how this lie started but writing, like most creative pursuits, has always been a less than lucrative lifestyle. Even if a book sells well, the $$ to hour ratio will be well below your average corporate job, without the health benefits, sick days, nor the months where you can coast by without your boss noticing. These days people write books after they’re famous, not before. A book can help you gain professional credibility, but then it’s more of a marketing project than a writing project, isn’t it?

Can anyone be a writer?

A book has a beginning, a middle, and an end that keep the reader for the five, six, ten hours it can take to read the book, because if they get tired of it halfway through, most people stop reading.

When people say “you should write a book,” they are not thinking of something physical with a cover that the person has modified, modified, designed, sold, sold, sent, and placed on the shelf.

No matter what you choose, you will become a better writer, and your next book will be easier to write and edit than the first book. Just focus on your book and your writing will get better and better over time.

If you can handle these three things, you can do it; it’s just a matter of hard work-then you can write well enough to write a novel. Because the only thing I learned from talking to people for this story is that all you have to do to become a real writer is…writing.

So, Can Just Anyone Write a Book?

Why, yes – in fact, I have worked with countless new authors through our incredible Book Bound Workshops. And I’ve met many more on a one-on-one basis through our partner publishing company and book coaching services. These new authors – at first – never considered themselves a “writer.”

But as it turns out, one of the hardest parts of the writing process is just having the story to share. And for these new authors, they found their story and voice, sometimes all in just one weekend!

Furthermore, are you new to the writing process and aren’t sure if you have the ability to write a book? As it turns out, it is possible with just a little encouragement and guidance!

Even so, there are a few tips for new writers to help navigate you through the writing and publishing process. These will help you get started and to stay motivated until you finish your book and beyond.

First: seek guidance

Celebrities, politicians, movie stars, and notable figures from all over have published books. As it turns out, not many of them are born writers. Often, they employ the services of a ghostwriter.

A professional ghostwriter can help transform your story into a polished book by doing the bulk of the heavy lifting for you. Ghostwriters are readily available for writers of all abilities, and offer all sorts of services.

Perhaps you just need a round or two of proofreading to ensure that your story flows perfectly. Or maybe you want to relay your story and have your ghostwriter put your ideas and concepts on the page.

Regardless of whether you need a little help or a lot, a ghostwriter is a great way for new writers to find their voice. As a result, they will be able to establish themselves in the publishing world, while still sharing a story that is strictly their own.

Second: keep trying

J.K. Rowling was famously turned down dozens of times before her Harry Potter series was finally published. And this has happened to many other bestselling authors in the world. (Even William Shakespeare had trouble finding an audience when he first started as a playwright!)

So don’t be worried if traditional publishing houses do not show immediate interest in your story idea. And this is especially true if you are in the very beginning stages of writing a book. Don’t forget that these days, there are countless options for publishing a book, ranging from big publishing houses to self-publishing options.

There is even an option for hiring a partner publishing company. They can provide a wealth of invaluable services – from copyediting to cover design – while ensuring that you retain all rights and royalties from your book sales.

Next: stay motivated

Countless would-be authors have started to write their book and then somehow get stuck along the way, and never reach the final page. Perhaps you have toyed with the idea of writing a book in the past, and then got some of your thoughts on paper. But then you ended up letting the project linger until it simply disappeared behind the havoc of everyday life.

Start by having a set schedule of when you can write, and then sticking to it! During this time you will set, it’s best to avoid distractions of the day, to make sure that writing remains a priority. You can achieve this by setting aside specific days and times to write. Or you could even set a daily or weekly word count that you have to reach.

Finally: seek help, and find a community

New writers will be delighted to discover that when it comes to assistance in the writing process, there are plenty of options! Consider hiring a writing coach or a book coach if this is your first foray into writing a book. Or you could even find a local writing group or other community where you can share your struggles and garner feedback.

You need help not only to begin writing but keeping motivation, and a little positive reinforcement will go a long way! So find your community and your inspiration, (whether it’s a professional writing coach or just a supportive team of family and friends). And then lean on them when the going gets tough so that you can keep going.

Now, keep in mind that the idea that “Anyone can write a book” is reliant on one condition – that the author has a story to share. As we said, finding a story can be the most difficult part of the entire writing process. It happens also to be the most important requirement on the path to becoming an author.

You already know you have a story, so feel proud that you have already taken a huge step forward to your new position as a published author. With a little help and a bit of hard work, you CAN write and publish a book, and leave your mark on the world.



Diary Writing Samples

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

The Benefits of Keeping a Diary

The reason is thought to be because it allows you to process your experiences safely, and review particular events in a less stressful way. Writing your personal story appears to play a part in this, and it seems to be important to focus on both thoughts and feelings, and not just feelings.

The best way to get better at anything is to practise. Writing a diary allows you to focus on your writing without worrying about your audience or what anyone else will think. And doing it regularly helps to improve your thinking processes, and can even help you become more creative in how you think.

This can be important for a number of reasons. For example, when you are applying for a job, you often have to describe times when you have demonstrated a skill, or done something particularly well. A diary or journal can be a good way to record your successes, and ensure that you have a ready source of examples for job applications. It can also be a way to reflect on your experiences, and learn for the future. Writing about positive events, and looking back on them, can also be a good way to boost your self-esteem.

Paper or Electronic?

There is a huge range of electronic options as well as the traditional paper-based route. You could, for example, use a diary app such as Penzu, which claims to take security very seriously, try a note-taking app like Google Keep, or just record your thoughts in a Word document stored on your laptop or in the cloud. You could even go ‘open’ and keep a blog, sharing your thoughts with the world, and not just your diary.

All these options have merits. Diary apps are right there on your phone, and quick and easy to access. They are also private. Electronic back-ups in the cloud should mean that even losing your device does not mean that you have lost your diary.

Using word-processing software gives you the option to craft your thoughts more carefully, and to go back and change them later. This could be both an advantage and disadvantage: an advantage because you can refine your thinking, and a disadvantage, because it will not show you your raw thinking when you look back, and may encourage you to spend more time than you really need on your journal.

A paper-based diary may be old-fashioned, but it is also completely private. You can hide it away at home, and nobody need ever suspect that you write it. Writing things down long-hand can also be useful practice in ordering your thoughts in advance, which is good if you will ever have to sit written exams.

Diary Writing Sample #2

Our board exam results have not yet been declared and already the news of malpractice is making the rounds. There are cases of attempted bribery reported for admissions into esteemed colleges. Such news is really very disheartening. Especially when coupled with the various reservation schemes already existing. This leaves no scope for children like me who do not fit in any minority groups nor can sum up large amounts for donation. This is a very serious problem, and I am really threatened by it. Even if the malpractices are ignored or hushed up, as very often they will be, the fact that these students will not excel in their courses is inevitable, thus causing a loss of the country’s resources employed in their training. I do not know what to look forward to anymore. I just hope and pray that such practices are tracked and nipped in the bud.

Last night, I had a very strange dream. I saw that two of my friends and I were going to attend my cousin’s wedding reception. On our way a rather strange-looking man intercepted us. Despite our protests, he insisted on narrating to us his tale of resentment. He looked unnaturally old with skinny limbs and glittering eyes, and the tale he narrated seemed too surreal to be true. He said he used to be a mariner who shot an innocent albatross who was guiding their ship out of the perilous ice at sea. This act enraged a powerful spirit who used to love the bird. His actions resulted in the death of his crewmates. Also, he was doomed to feel a great deal of agony which was relieved only when he narrated the tale to somebody. The dream taught me a valuable lesson: Never hurt the hand which helps you.



Assertiveness in the Workplace: Pros, Cons and How To Be More Assertive


Assertiveness in the Workplace: Pros, Cons and How To Be More Assertive

Assertiveness is an essential communication tool to express your opinions respectfully. Practicing assertiveness can boost your self-esteem and help you implement positive changes in your organization. As an employee, it’s important to understand how to create an assertive delivery that is easy for your audience to understand. In this article, we explain the definition and importance of assertiveness and guidance for exhibiting assertive behavior in the workplace.

Assertiveness is an emotion that enables professionals to express their opinions and respect their colleague’s perspectives simultaneously. Employees can defend their ideals while maintaining positive connections with teammates and managers. Unlike aggression, assertiveness considers how others feel.

It’s also different from passiveness because of its firm delivery of a message. To practice assertiveness, employees find a balance between acquiescing others’ requests and satisfying their own interests.

Volunteer Yourself

“If your boss or leaders ask for help on something, volunteer to help,” says DeWall. “Volunteering is an easy way to demonstrate assertiveness while minimizing conflict because it is a personal choice; you can choose whether you want to volunteer or not.” You can mark yourself out as a go-getter and help others who may not have wanted to take on the same responsibilities.

It’s also a good place to do a test run of your assertiveness. “Become a building fire marshal or head up a volunteer event,” Erica McCurdy, founder of executive coaching group McCurdy Solutions, tells Bustle. “These are roles where those not always in leadership are given temporary authority to show leadership what you are made of and test out your assertiveness in a temporary environment.”

Lead With Your Feelings

Sometimes working with others means giving some criticism, and that’s an important time to be assertive, experts tell Bustle — but phrasing can really help make it easier. “If you’re trying to give constructive feedback in a way where you don’t want to create conflict, I recommend you always lead with how someone is making you feel,” Liz Wessel, CEO of WayUp, a company that connects young people with Fortune 500 companies for internships, tells Bustle. “No one can argue with your feelings, since they are yours to have.” Using “I” statements and phrases about your own feelings, like “you made me feel XYZ,” are more effective than “you clearly feel XYZ about me,” because they’re all about you.

Starting with praise can also help. “Start off by sharing a statement of validation letting the other person know that you appreciate them and the work they do,” McCurdy tells Bustle. “By being someone who does not often create conflict, your conversation is likely to have an impact larger than you may intend, so make your case carefully, concisely, impersonally, and be sure to articulate exactly what you need the other person to do to resolve your issue.”

Assertive: I’m ok – you’re ok

Being assertive means that you respect yourself enough to put forward your thoughts and suggestions, whilst also respecting the other person and their point of view. You are communicating directly and honestly as well as being kind and likeable.

When you’re assertive, you talk openly about what you need. You might not always get what you want, but by listening to others and by having the courage to speak candidly and respectfully, your calm and agreeable style will earn others’ respect.

Because assertiveness is based on mutual respect, it’s an effective and diplomatic approach. It allows us to cooperate, to understand both points of view and ideally to resolve conflict by finding an outcome that suits us both.

success high five

How to be assertive in five steps:

  1. Be curious about the other person’s point of view. Even if they are not acting professionally, they will have reasons for their behaviour or opinion. Ask open questions and really listen to understand what they have to say. If people are being unreasonable, listening to their needs and expectations can be really challenging. But if you ensure they feel listened to and respected, the conversation can shift to a more positive dialogue.
  2. Speak up and express yourself. People can’t read your mind, so be honest and specific. Use “I” language to avoid sounding critical. For example: “I have another suggestion” rather than “You’re wrong”. Or “I noticed the deadline wasn’t met” instead of “You didn’t meet the deadline”. If you have a hard time turning down requests, learn to say no, not yet, or not now. Saying no is not selfish, it shows you are able to prioritise and can set healthy limits. Remember, every time you say yes to something you are saying no to something else. Saying no therefore also enables you to say yes to the things that matter most. Explain your perspective and ask for help if needed. Keep any explanations short and simple.
  3. Watch your tone: It not just what you say but how you say it. Keep your tone of voice and body language open and warm. You don’t want your message to get lost because people are reacting to your delivery. We read a great deal into the way something is said, not just the words people use. When you are preparing for an assertive interaction, think ahead about your body language and how you can show you are OK and so are they. Pay particular attention to your facial expressions, arms and posture.
  4. Think win-win: don’t assume the other person is aiming to undermine or belittle you. Even if they are, don’t sink to their level, don’t treat them badly, and don’t withdraw from the conversation. Build on their ideas rather than dismissing them. Offer potential solutions and ask the other person to help you shape an answer that works for both of you. Work together on the challenge or issue, exploring it from all sides, finding common ground and a way forward that deals with both of your concerns.
  5. Respond, don’t react: if you find yourself feeling strong and unhelpful emotions in an interaction, it can be really hard to stay assertive. Take a deep breath, pause and think. Your feelings and emotions are entirely valid, however assertiveness means not allowing those feelings to drive your behaviour.

Thinking I’m Ok, You’re Ok will keep you assertive no matter how difficult the conversation. You might not always get exactly what you want, but your pride and self-respect won’t be damaged. And you will build a reputation for being confident, professional and great to work with.