3 Fundamental Editorial Standards for Any Serious Publication

 

I’m a “go big or go home” kind of gal, and when it comes to content marketing today that translates to “have editorial standards or don’t publish.”

If a reader, listener, or viewer begins to like you, but you fail to earn their trust, your hard work will feel like a waste.

Editorial standards are essentially rules that help you establish and uphold your reputation as a trustworthy resource for your audience.

I’m particularly fond of this other cool part:

They give you the freedom to be creative, experimental, or straight-up weird … as long as your content is built on a foundation that serves your audience.

It’s time to meet the first cousin of editing and proofreading — the 3Fs of editorial standards you can use to evaluate whether or not a piece of content is a proper reflection of you or your client.

1. Fitness

A simple question used to work for a fitness assessment: “Is this information relevant and useful for the audience I serve?”

That’s not enough anymore, because there’s no room for “Captain Obvious” content that might have passed that test before.

Don’t be afraid to address topics other people in your niche cover, but saying the exact same thing in the exact same way will make you think content marketing doesn’t work.

Remember the movie Legally Blonde?

Peppering your content with some “Elle Woods” shows visitors that you’ll help them in ways your competition won’t.

When you’ve crafted a relevant, useful presentation that demonstrates an aspect of your winning difference, it’s fit to publish.

2. Fact-checking

Fact-checking helps you share your content with confidence.

With this step, you review the details that sloppy content creators fail to verify.

Here are five of my favorite items to fact-check that elevate the quality of your work:

  1. Hyperlinks. Do all hyperlinks go to the correct sites, and do you want to direct readers to those sites?
  2. Spellings. Names of people, businesses, products, locations, and publications should all be double-checked. To add an extra layer of polish, note the style of spellings. For instance, it’s “Copyblogger,” not “CopyBlogger.”
  3. Days and dates. Make sure days of the week correspond with dates mentioned. If the text said an event was on Friday, March 29, 2018, you’d need to look up when the event actually takes place: Thursday or Friday? Because the correct day and date is either going to be Thursday, March 29, 2018 or Friday, March 30, 2018.
  4. Start and finish times. If you’re publishing details about an event, check that the start and finish times match the official event information to avoid issuing a correction later.
  5. Discount codes. If you provide a discount code in your content, test it.

Everyone accidentally publishes mistakes every once and a while, but consistent accuracy brings visitors back to your site.

3. Formatting

Formatting may sound boring, but it’s a classic part of print publications that benefits digital publications as well.

You’re able to offer a variety of voices through different pieces of content because formatting helps each article look like it belongs to the same publication.

It’s a way to tie together perspectives that all serve your target audience.

If you have guests on a podcast or video channel, establishing a format for your interview segments provides a familiar environment for listeners or viewers. (I found Between Two Ferns instantly memorable.)

What are some of your editorial standards?

Do you have a checklist you review before you publish?

How do you decide if a piece of content stays in Draft Mode or if it’s ready to be released?

Let us know in the comments below.

Creative Content Foundations Is Open for Enrollment

 

We’re excited to announce that our Creative Content Foundations class is open for new students!

And we’re launching it at what can only be called a screaming deal — but just for this week.

We’ve spent months putting the course together, making sure it’s focused, but also comprehensive enough to give you real results.

Here’s who we designed the class for:

  • Smart beginners — folks who are interested in blogging or podcasting, but haven’t felt confident in their skills to “go pro” yet
  • Ambitious intermediate content marketers, who want to get more strategic and demonstrate better results
  • Competitive freelancers who want an edge that will let them find better clients and charge higher rates
  • Talented team players who want to grow their skill set to advance at work
  • Motivated entrepreneurs who are tired of spinning their wheels and want to move forward

In short — anyone who has the desire to make content marketing work for them, but has a gap or two in their skill set that’s holding them back.

The class includes modules on getting more work done, polishing your work to a high standard, assembling the foundation of your content plan, and essential SEO strategy and tools. We even offer a bonus session on managing your stress levels — because the life of a content marketer is always intense.

2018 is going to be all about education for Copyblogger — and we want to make sure that our audience is starting off with a great foundation.

To that end, we’re offering the course at an extremely advantageous rate — but just for this week. When we close the doors to new students next week on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, the course fee will go up dramatically. We always like to offer a warm “thank you” to the folks who jump in early.

Here’s where you can find out more about Creative Content Foundations — and, just this week, get a slightly ridiculously great deal on the course.

4 Ways to Craft Content that Earns Audience Attention

About four years ago, I wrote about the idea of “Content Shock” — and maybe I was a tiny bit snarky about it.

“Content Shock” is Mark Schaefer’s term for the point when there’s so much content published every day that we’re all drowning in it — and content stops working.

I stand by my original response, which is that we’re (still) not suffering from a glut of good content.

Audiences have excellent crap detectors. They tune out the junky stuff, and keep responding to the good stuff.

But I underestimated the difficulty of implementing the advice to “create more good stuff.”

No one is born with the knowledge of how to create compelling content, any more than we’re born with the knowledge of how to play the piano or cook an omelet.

We have to learn.

Watching the pile of junky content get higher and higher inspired the Creative Content Foundations course — to get people writing and recording the kind of content that’s actually worth our audiences’ time and attention.

Today, I asked my fellow instructors in that course to weigh in on a question:

What’s the best way to create content that stands out, given the huge volume of not-so-great stuff we have to compete with?

Here’s what they had to say:

Stefanie Flaxman, editor-in-chief

Stefanie joins me inside the course to teach you how to polish content to a professional standard, and take your content from good to great.

Every time you create content, you need to ask yourself:

“Is this tailored to a specific person I want to connect with, from my point of view?”

The two key parts of that question are:

  • A specific person I want to connect with
  • My point of view

The intersection of those elements gives readers, listeners, and viewers an experience that is different from other content on the same topic.

Your editing skills will also make it thoughtful, so that you don’t waste your audience’s time. People appreciate that; they return to — and engage with — sites that get to the point.

Look at your favorite websites as examples. You’ll find that they consistently publish thoughtful content for a specific person they want to connect with, from their own points of view.

Chris Garrett, chief digital officer

Chris joins us to talk about creative productivity and processes, so we can hit our deadlines and create excellent content more reliably.

My answer is to write the article that your most-desired audience actually wants to read.

That sounds almost flippant, so I want to break it down a bit.

First, who do you most want to appeal to?

If you want to stand out, don’t try to reach everyone. Work out the target audience you can most credibly help and most easily reach, and drill into their problems and goals so you understand them almost better than they understand themselves.

Next, develop headlines that speak to their most urgent needs. If your headline matches what they need right now, it will get noticed on social media today and on the search engines in the future.

We all have a part of our brain that actively looks for what we need. Speak to that.

Finally, make it easy and attractive to consume. Spend the extra time on a featured image, reader-friendly formatting, and a strong ending. Leave the reader with a desire to share your work, rather than a desire to do painful things to you for wasting their time.

Sean Jackson, chief financial officer

Sean joins us to teach the evergreen best practices for SEO — what we sometimes call “SEO literacy” — as well as the most useful SEO tools for content creators today.

Creating compelling content — the kind that builds authority and trust — takes effort and time. And once you create that compelling content, it can often take months or years for it to really gain traction.

But what if there was a way to multiply the reach of that content without spending a lot of time and effort? A way to amplify its reach and influence across an industry, quickly and easily.

That’s what I love about original research.

Today, creating surveys and analyzing their results is very simple to do. In fact, we have a handy guide that will help you do it.

The real power of original research comes when you repurpose and re-deploy it — further expanding its impact.

Of course you’ll publish your original research on your own site. But you should also create additional media assets that others can use — linking back, naturally, to your own site as the source of the data.

Infographics, slides, videos, and podcast episodes are just a few potential by-products of that one piece. You have lots of options for outlets that aggregate this content — sites like SlideShare, YouTube, and Pinterest, to name a few.

But the benefits don’t stop there.

Your original research can also attract opportunities to guest post for popular sites, to be interviewed on podcasts, and to speak at industry conferences. You may even find that traditional media publications will cite it in their reporting.

Many firms have leveraged this approach to great success. Moz and Stone Temple Consulting have become dominant influencers in the SEO space, based in large part on their research publishing.

Andy Crestodina’s annual survey of bloggers creates a wealth of publicity and good will for his design firm. Even consumer brands have used their research to stand out from the competition — think of the “Pepsi Challenge” or the “9 out of 10 dentists recommend” campaigns.

Creating content that stands out is not easy. But if you want to leverage your effort, and amplify it, then create a survey and publish your results. You will be pleasantly surprised by how quickly you’ll build authority and trust.

Sonia Simone, chief content officer

Hey, that’s me! In the course, I teach the fundamentals of content strategy, and how all of the various pieces go together to find your audience and turn them into clients or customers. I’m also a co-teacher on most of the course material.

Smart content strategy is fundamental to creating high-quality content. It helps you decide what to publish, how to publish it, and sometimes even who to publish it for.

But strategy alone has never been enough to create something remarkable. And given the number of analytical tools and dashboards being used to craft content today, over-reliance on strategy gets less and less effective.

To create content that stands out — in 2008 or 2018 or 2218 — keep the human element as your priority.

As my fellow instructors advise — know who you’re talking to. And why you’re choosing to talk with that particular “Who.”

Use all of the art, craft, and personality you can muster, to create a piece of communication that speaks human-to-human.

Solve human problems, with a human voice, and by sharing human values.

Business is always fundamentally about people. So are nonprofits, hobby sites, passion projects, and political endeavors.

Speak to humans.

Then use smart strategy and clever analytical tools to thoughtfully optimize that communication — and let your message reach more and more people.

A few more days to get the “Crazy Eddie” price for Creative Content Foundations

Creative Content Foundations is a brand-new class from Copyblogger, designed to teach you how to craft the kind of content that works — the kind that earns attention, instead of feeling entitled to it.

We’ll be closing the course to new students on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. When we re-open it again, the price will still offer great value — but it won’t be as crazy as the deal you can get today.

Here’s where you can learn more and get started with the class.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Welcoming Our New Students to the Creative Foundations Course!

Aww, it warms my heart to see the wave of new students joining our Creative Content Foundations course.

That’s a new class from Copyblogger, designed to give you the essentials that every content marketing “pro” needs — whether you’re creating content for your own business, for freelance clients, or in an organization.

We’ve got a crazypants price on it this week only for our first group of students, and then we’ll restore it to something that makes more business sense.

Feel free to jump in — you can get the details here:

https://digitalcommerce.com/creative-content-foundations-sales/

On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman, our Queen of Editorial Standards (also known as our Editor-in-Chief) talked about the bedrock editorial standards every web publisher needs to keep in mind.

On Tuesday, I shared the rundown on Creative Content Foundations — who the course is for and some of the benefits of joining us.

And on Wednesday, I interviewed our Creative Foundations instructors about the all-important questions: What makes content stand out, in the ultra-cluttered content environment of 2018? How can we create content that reaches audiences today — and can serve them in the years or even decades to come?

On Copyblogger FM, I talked about a double-edged sword that can make — or break — your content.

And on Site Success, Jerod Morris explained factors to consider when you’re adding that vital opt-in form to your site, as well as how to incorporate pop-up elements without getting penalized in search results.

That’s it for this week — welcome again to all the new students, and we’ll catch you next week!

— Sonia Simone
Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital
 

Struggling to Finish Your Blog Post? Try This Quick Tip

Publishing content regularly — and striving to improve with each new creation — is a proven way to figure out how to serve your audience and meet your business goals.

But I have other things to do besides writing content, and you do too.

Recently, I had trouble finishing a draft of a post and realized that my other responsibilities were distracting me from getting clear on the message I wanted to communicate.

So today, I’m going to share the simple solution that helped me complete the article with ease.

Why is the coffee shop sexier than the bar?

No, that subhead isn’t a new spin on: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

It references one of my recent posts, The Coffee Shop Is Sexier than The Bar.

I initially wrote down a lot of ideas for that content, but when it was time to create a solid draft, I was stuck.

My go-to remedy when I feel blocked is to ask myself questions. I said:

If I’m calling the post “The Coffee Shop Is Sexier than The Bar,” every part of it needs to answer the question, “Why is the coffee shop sexier than the bar?”

My other musings needed to be cut out and (potentially) saved for other articles.

With that minor outlook shift, it felt like the floodgates opened … every sentence that was appropriate effortlessly stayed and I saw what didn’t work.

How to earn the attention of people “who don’t have time to read”

People quickly navigate away from content that contains too many ideas.

You can challenge readers without overwhelming them.

So, once you craft a headline, turn that title into a question in order to pinpoint your main message.

Then, as you draft and review your content, make sure every part of it answers that question.

Length doesn’t matter. A short post could be cluttered and convoluted; a long post could be cluttered and convoluted. A long post could be clear and crisp; a short post could be clear and crisp.

Even the busiest readers will make time for focused content, regardless of length, because they know they’ll get a payoff for their investment in it.

3 more examples of how you can use this technique

Browsing the classic five-W tribe and lone-wolf H will help you transform your headline into a question:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • How

Here are three other posts I’ve written and the questions that helped keep the content focused:

7 Unusual Signs on the Path to a Breakthrough

  • What are the 7 unusual signs on the path to a breakthrough?

Attract Better Clients and Customers with the ‘Chuckle Point’ Technique

  • How does this technique help you attract better clients and customers?

The Best Place to Consistently Find Winning Content Ideas

  • Where is the best place to consistently find winning content ideas?

This tip may seem obvious, but …

So much writing advice fails to take into consideration that content marketers are people who have other responsibilities.

And those other responsibilities sometimes make it difficult to see the obvious. I was distracted and needed to use this quick tip to move forward.

In our new Creative Content Foundations course, the “Taking Your Content from Good to Great” Module shows you how to work with where you’re at and what you have, rather than give guidance that only works in an unrealistic, isolated bubble.

You don’t need a bubble; you need to develop practical, manageable habits designed for real people.

If you want to publish regularly, Sonia and I will help you start on the right foot. We share our favorite techniques for efficiently reviewing and polishing your writing so you create content that impresses … without getting bogged down in perfectionism.

We’re offering the course at a “bananas” price for our first group of students, but only for two more days — until 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 — so don’t wait to get all the details.

You’ll find them here:

https://digitalcommerce.com/creative-content-foundations-sales/

3 False Beliefs about Conversational Copywriting that Make Me Want to Scream

Before I get into what makes me scream, shout, and reach for hard objects to throw, let me be clear about my definition of “conversational copywriting.”

It’s a way of writing sales copy that sounds like one friend enthusiastically selling something to another friend.

Conversational copywriting is still about selling … but in a way that is honest, transparent, and respectful of your audience.

It’s the zero-hype, no-BS antidote to the hard-sell approach.

Truth be told, this has always been at the heart of the very best copywriting. It’s what made me fall in love with the craft when I got my own start as a copywriter in 1979.

You’ll find plenty of references to marketing with conversation in The Cluetrain Manifesto, published in 2000. Right up front, the authors state, “Markets Are Conversations.”

It’s part and parcel of Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing.

And if you’re a regular reader here at Copyblogger, you’re already familiar with conversational writing.

So why do I still find myself reaching for hard objects?

Because so many marketers and copywriters still don’t get it.

In no particular order …

Screamworthy Moment #1: “We do that already”

Very occasionally, I’ll agree. But mostly not.

I’ll look at their sales pages and find that while they’re using conversational, chatty language, they’re still being manipulative scumbuckets.

Dressing up hard-selling, sneaky copy in chatty language does not qualify as conversational copywriting.

Conversational copywriting is as much about intent as it is about the language you use.

Or, I’ll look at their content or product information pages and find 50-word, compound sentences packed into 20-line paragraphs.

Er, no … that’s not conversational. That’s just bad business writing.

“But our readers are professionals!” Okay. See #3 below.

Screamworthy Moment #2: “We need the ‘real thing’”

I don’t know where this idea came from.

Why does the “real thing” in copywriting have to be “sell at any cost, even if it means lying?”

I don’t buy that argument and never have.

Read some of the great print ads from the second half of the last century. Study ads written by David Ogilvy. Or the work of a couple of my own favorites from the 1980s: David Abbott and Susie Henry. Their copywriting was absolutely conversational.

(Get yourself a copy of D&AD: The Copy Book. It showcases dozens of great examples of old-school print copywriting.)

If you still get some pushback from clients about conversational copywriting being second best, buy them a copy of Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser. It’s packed full of the science behind why conversational selling works so well.

Here’s the neuroscience behind it:

If you sell too hard, your reader’s amygdala lights up like a Christmas tree. That’s the fight or flight part of the brain. The oldest part. The part that kept us alive at a time when we were on the menu for saber-toothed tigers.

When the amygdala lights up, all bets are off. You’re now perceived as a threat.

Take a less pushy and more conversational approach … an approach that signals you can be trusted … and the amygdala stays quiet, while the prefrontal cortex lights up.

The prefrontal cortex is involved in personality expression, moderating social behavior, and decision-making. It’s the “thoughtful” part of our brains. That’s the part of the brain you need to engage if you want to close the sale.

So no, I don’t buy the notion that being conversational is somehow second best.

Far from it.

Screamworthy Moment #3: “It doesn’t make sense to ‘dumb things down’”

Seriously?

  • Since when was writing simply and clearly dumbing things down?
  • Since when did removing jargon from your writing make you look less smart?
  • Since when was openness, honesty, and integrity damaging to a “serious” brand?

When people ask me about this dumbing down thing … particularly with regard to B2B companies … I suggest they think about how people talk around the water cooler.

Imagine you’re a young intern at a “serious” B2B company. You go to your first meeting and struggle to understand what people are saying.

Why? Because they’re using a lot of jargon and industry-specific, in-house gobbledygook.

A kindly soul sees you struggling to keep up. Later, around the water cooler, he explains the key points to you. But just one-on-one, as part of a conversation.

That’s the conversational version of what was said in the meeting. Not dumbed down. Just a whole lot clearer.

This is the perfect fit for selling online

To me, the power of conversational copywriting is self-evident.

And it turns out that it’s also the perfect fit for the web.

After all, the web is by its very nature both social and conversational.

That’s what we do on the web, right? We use social platforms to get into conversations with others.

It’s what people do.

So we can join those conversations with our sales messages in ways that fit in, and are respectful of their attention.

Conversational copywriting is copywriting for the web.

It’s what fits. It’s what works.

Updated: A Breakthrough Resource for Your Content Creation

Way back in 2014, I wrote about a breakthrough resource for your content creation.

Here’s what I had to say:

“Finally, after years of clumsy, clunky automated tools for ‘spinning,’ scraping, regurgitating, and extruding low-quality content, we’ve found a solution.

“This resource produces sharp, smart, audience-engaging content every time. Over time, it even calibrates itself to produce more effective headlines, to tailor content to the precise needs of your audience and customers, and to automatically generate semantically relevant alternative keyword phrases.

“We’re calling this resource RealWriter — and if you don’t implement it for your content marketing program, you’re missing out.”

Spoiler alert: RealWriter isn’t a new app, and it’s not an enterprise platform.

It’s just … a real writer. Like you. Like me.

Why so snarky? Because at the time, I saw app after app being promoted to solve problems that are much more intelligently addressed by a real human being.

Why revisit RealWriter in 2018? Surely as a culture, we’ve figured out that there are some things software is wonderful at, and some things that are better done by human beings who care about their craft. Right?

Well … sometimes.

Is your content failing to connect?

“RealWriter uses advanced algorithms including RealEmpathy, RealResearch, and RealListening to craft content that actually makes your audience more engaged and helps them develop positive emotional associations with your company.”

Developers are coding hard to crack this one. They’re working on natural human rhythms of speech, building massive databases of conversational snippets in an attempt to create digitally generated text that “feels like a person.”

How effective is machine-written content so far? It tends to look a lot like this.

(Apologies for any Uncanny Valley trauma that occurs as a result of the above-referenced terrible decision.)

For very simple information, like sport scores, it’s probably fine. In some cases, I’m sure software-generated text is able to trick people into thinking it was created by a person. And the software will get somewhat better at doing that.

But if you unleash that type of software on your content, what do you get?

A whole bunch of content that sounds like everyone else’s software-written content. In other words, the last thing content marketing needs.

As every science fiction fan knows, the only salvation in the robot-controlled future is our own weird, funky human unpredictability.

The more work that robots do for us, the more refreshing it is to see something created by a person.

But … RealWriter doesn’t scale

“Human effort doesn’t scale” is one of the most common arguments organizations make when they’re looking to overly automate their content creation.

Here’s the deal.

Human effort scales just fine when it’s intelligently amplified by technology.

Seth Godin doesn’t have to type more words to reach his legions of fans. He just uses technology to get his writing out to as many people who want to read and share it.

The answer to “scale” isn’t to turn the crank harder, spewing out an ever-greater volume of Content Regurgitated as Product. That’s the precise kind of content that we need less of.

The answer to “scale” is to use technology for what it’s good at.

Getting a really good amplifier doesn’t mean you let the amp try to write the songs.

Copyblogger loves RealWriters

Why do we show up every week, year in and year out?

Because we adore actual writers. The human voice, with all of its peculiarities, variations, and imperfections. Captured in text, podcasts, video scripts, and all of the other expressions of individual human creativity.

Everything we do is to support the real human writer.

We’re not interested, at all, in rejecting technology. That would be like telling a songwriter in 2018 that the only way to find an audience is to be on the road 300 days a year. I mean … it can work, but there are less painful options that are worth a try.

Use wise technology to amplify your message. Use smart segmentation, automation, and tools like chatbots to direct relevant, human-created messages to the right people, at exactly the right moment.

Hope you can join us inside Creative Content Foundations!

If you want to connect with some fellow real people creating interesting, original, human content, and doing that on the smartest possible foundation, we’d love to see you inside our new course, Creative Content Foundations.

Our first group of students has been wonderfully enthusiastic and motivated. We close the doors to new students today, Wednesday, April 4 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. That lets us really focus on this group of learners, so we can make sure the course truly meets their needs and moves them meaningfully toward their goals.

Here’s where you can learn all about Creative Content Foundations 2018.

It would be delightful to see you there.

A Dose of Radical Common Sense

You know how sometimes you see some advice that’s completely common sense, but somehow … it’s not at all what you’re doing right now? Yeah, me too.

This week was about getting back to sensible solutions to business and content problems. They’re common sense, but, as my colleague Chris Garrett often says:

“Common sense isn’t always common practice.”

On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman highlighted a fundamental question to ask yourself when you’re writing your content. Is the question simple? Yes. Could it save you a couple of hours the next time you write a blog post, and help you end up with a result that’s particularly sharp and relevant? Yep.

On Tuesday, guest writer Nick Usborne shared some of his least favorite myths around the smartest approach to persuasive copywriting: conversational copy. If you want to get results with content and you don’t enjoy feeling like a sleaze, this one’s for you.

And on Wednesday, I talked about the pitfalls of trying to use apps, platforms, and algorithms to do the writing for you — and why I think real writers will always win the content-quality battle.

We recommend you make time for Sean Jackson and Katy Katz’s conversation on The Digital Entrepreneur with Moz founder Rand Fishkin. We considered titling this “Rand Fishkin Exposed” or even “Rand Fishkin NAKED” … but at the end of the day, we went with a lower-key headline on this thoughtful, intimate conversation from one of tech’s most transparent founders.

That’s this week — enjoy, and have a great weekend!

— Sonia Simone
Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital
 


5 ways to bring play back into your life

 

5 ways to bring play back into your life

 

Creativity, fun and friends can contribute to happiness and resilience throughout life. Learn how to tap into your playful side at any age.

By Stacy M. Peterson

Think play is just for kids? Think again. In fact, it can have serious benefits for adults. Maintaining a sense of creativity and fun is linked with greater happiness across the life span. Plus, it is thought to contribute to resilience and healthy aging.

One possible reason: Taking a playful approach may equip you to better cope with the inevitable stress of life. One study of university students found that those who rated themselves as being more playful found the challenges in their lives to be more manageable.

It’s normal to experience stress, but how you perceive that stress and what you do with it can have lasting impact. In the study above, the more playful someone was, the more likely he or she was to search for a silver lining when things didn’t go as planned, a strategy called positive reframing. Raining on vacation? Maybe it’s a perfect opportunity to sip tea and play board games.

There are different ways to be playful and have fun. Many people enjoy talking and relaxing with friends. Others enjoy physical activity, such as yoga or water aerobics. Researchers who study the benefits of play point out that it has more to do with your attitude than what you’re actually doing: Things like living in the moment, finding amusement in everyday details or finding the fun in solving problems such as riddles and crossword puzzles are all forms of play.

And while some people are naturally inclined toward playfulness, this skill can also be practiced and learned — just as a person can learn to be more grateful over time.

Ready to play and have fun? Here are some ways to get started:

  • Schedule time for a hobby. Always wanted to learn woodworking? Love gardening? Make time to do the things you enjoy. But make a point to find joy in the process, and not just focus on the end product.
  • Enlist social support. Doing fun things with others is a key aspect of playfulness. Perhaps you’d love to join an adult soccer league. Or maybe a bird-watching club is more to your liking. Or, maybe you just like to meet a close friend for coffee to talk about life.
  • Play games. According to one study, people averaged about 2,000 more steps a day when they started playing a mobile app game that used the device’s GPS, rewarding players for finding objects in different places. You can create games in your nondigital life, too. Try racing people on the escalator while taking the stairs. Or pass the time on a car trip by playing a game of I spy.
  • Visit a park or playground. Getting out in nature can improve your mood and can be a fun social activity. And there’s no such thing as being too old for playing outdoors.
  • Stop and smell the roses. Playful people tend to be those who take the time to appreciate beauty in the world. Practice mindfulness and catch a snowflake on your tongue, notice the changing leaves and how they look, feel or smell this fall, or allow yourself to jump in a puddle during the next rain shower (rain boots optional).

Put simply, play is finding amusement, humor, joy and even entertainment in your daily life. And anyone can do it by setting a goal to become more engaged in fun and enjoyable activities.

April 03, 2018

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How To Transform Your Teenagers’ Career Prospects

 

‘INSPiRED Teenager’ – from the UK’s Top Careers Advisor – Offers an Online Toolkit For Savvy Parents To Max Their Teenagers’ Prospects

A new online resource will enable parents to transform their own teenagers’ academic and vocational career prospects. The ‘INSPiRED Teenager’ programme is an eight-part video-based career coaching toolkit complete with a set of accompanying eBooks. Developed by Carolyn Parry, the CDI’s Career Coach of the Year, the self-paced kit equips parents with all the resources they need.

INSPiRED Teenager

Aimed at supporting GCSE and A-level students, the first-of-its-kind toolkit ensures that high-quality affordable careers coaching is now well within the reach of every family. Designed for adults and teenager to work through together, ‘INSPiRED Teenager’ empowers parents and carers to be confident that they have done the best they can to set their teen on the path to a successful, happy and fulfilling working life.

Not all careers rely on academic study and from guiding their teen in the right vocational direction through to helping them understand future job markets, the toolkit aims to be supportive yet challenging. It will help to identify what employers look for most and explain work experience options. There are also handy job search tips and insights on how to succeed with applications and interviews. Beyond these early stages, ‘INSPiRED Teenager’ also defines useful strategies that motivate teenagers and provides career development advice for when they start work. Once learned, the toolkit can be applied any time in the future to help deal with unexpected job and career changes and developments.

The INSPiRED Teenager is also ideal for students focused on going to university, where in a fast changing world, making the right course choice is now harder than ever. With around half a million teens making their university choices over the coming months and taking on debts estimated to be over £50k, stats from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that in 2014, 6.2% drop out in the first year and 10.3% leave without qualifications, with anxiety stress and depression being cited as one of the major causes. With headline news flagging that some courses have a drop-out rate over 60%, this leaves many of the 50,000 students with significant debt, but without a degree and that doesn’t help their career. With ‘INSPiRED Teenager’, parents and carers can work confidently and accurately with teens to analyse the course options against a future work / career backdrop and also identify the key metrics of better performing, better value courses.

Delivered in self-paced video format through the ‘Careers Advice For Parents’ website, parents and teens can watch whenever it suits them and each module also comes with a comprehensive e-book to download which has been designed for all learning styles. The eight modules are:

Identity – Teenagers learn what makes them the person they are, including exploring their personality, character and potential future self.

Needs & Wants – In this module, teens identify the kind of life they want along with their motivations, career needs and drivers.

Strengths & Talents – Teens identify their gifts and abilities, learning the difference between learned skills and natural strengths, why this matters and which to develop.

Passion & Interests – Teenagers identify and define their passions and strongest interests, exploring the importance of curiosity, role models and how to develop personal interests further.

Impact & Contribution – Teens discover how to join-the-dots for a central career theme, building an impactful image with enduring stability and resilience in rapidly changing times.

Relationships – Teens will identify the connections and tribes that they want to learn and work with – and which types to avoid!

Environment – Teenagers will choose the geographic location, physical working environments and working patterns they need to thrive, so they can make informed choices.

Direction & Goal Setting – Teens will learn how to set meaningful, effective goals that drive sound career decision making.

Says Carolyn Parry, “In terms of state provision, the picture across the UK is extremely patchy. As few as just 17% of 14-19-year-olds receive high-quality schools careers advice, so it’s little wonder that over 70 percent of teenagers turn to their parents for help. However, for over half of parents and carers, the thought of this fills them with dread. Today’s world of work and the gig economy is very different from that which most parents and carers started out in. This leads to numerous intergenerational hurdles between baby boomer or millennial parents and the Generation Z kids they are trying to help. Well, now with ‘INSPiRED Teenager’ they can stay calm as first-class help is on hand and the two generations can work seamlessly together. Without needing to become an expert, parents and carers now have an affordable and structured route for delivering high quality support.

“By combining 15 years of first hand experience working with students, graduates, and professionals with the latest employment related theory, this toolkit delivers a unique and easy-to-use academic and vocational career development framework. By this means, both parents and teens gain the key concepts, skills and questions they need to discover who they are and what academic or career moves will get them off to the happiest start in life. In short, both parents and teenagers can now become career savvy! And why shouldn’t they? Who wouldn’t want to help their child get ahead?”

The “INSPiRED Teenager” programme is currently available at a launch discount. With a rrp of £97, customers registering before 1 Jan 2018 can access the full course for just £47, a saving of £50. For those wanting more information, please visit http://www.careersadviceforparents.org/inspiredteenager.html

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About Carolyn Parry
An award-winning ‘all-age’ career coach practitioner and UK Careers Adviser/Career Coach of the Year 2017, Carolyn runs Career Alchemy and www.careersadviceforparents.org. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, of the Higher Education Academy, and the International Enterprise Educators’ Programme, she is a Trustee/Non-Executive Director of NASES, a national trainer for AGCAS, and represents the interests of the Career Development Institute in Wales.

About The INSPiRED Programme
Carolyn is behind the design of the INSPiRED Programme, an ‘all-age’ career development coaching toolkit designed to promote self-understanding and enable users to develop successful, fulfilling and happy working lives no matter what changes take place in the world of work now and in the future. Already in use with adult career changers and in a university context, it is now available as a tailor made self-service toolkit for parents and carers to use with their teenagers.

For further information, please contact
Carolyn Parry
Director and Lead Coach
Careers Advice For Parents
07899 075853
carolyn@careersadviceforparents.org
www.careersadviceforparents.org

Leigh Richards
The Right Image
07758 372527
leigh.richards@therightimage.co.uk
www.therightimage.co.uk