Monday Spark: Stretch Yourself.

Here is a story from when I was about 11 years old.

At my school, in England, we used to put on a full-length play by Shakespeare once a year.

I was a hopelessly timid kid, but somehow landed the part of Cassius in the play, Julius Caesar. I didn’t think I could learn hundreds of lines for the play, and I didn’t think I could get up on the stage in front of an audience.

But I did. And playing that part changed my life.

My teacher gave me the opportunity to really stretch myself, and to discover what I was truly capable of.

Now we fast-forward a generation to when my children were at school at about the same age. When I went to see their school “plays”, my kids were asked to learn maybe ten lines.

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The 3 A’s of Client Attraction.

I was listening to the radio the other day and came across a discussion about how, people choose their doctors.

And this is where the 3 A’s come in.

Affability, Availability and Ability.

When a doctor is affable, that means he or she is friendly, empathetic and appears genuinely caring.

Availability is about how long the patient will have to wait to get an appointment.

And ability speaks to the patient’s sense of just how good or bad the doctor is at his or her job.

What interested me was that the expert being interviewed on that radio program was saying that these 3 A’s are listed according to their importance to the patient.

In other words, patients care most about their doctor being affable, then about their availability, and finally about their ability.

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Introducing — Monday Sparks for Freelancers [VIDEO]

Beginning today, I’ll be publishing a Monday Spark each week.

The idea is to wake you up, inspire you, get you revved up, and give you a little spark to start the week.

Why? Because freelancing can be a great way to live and work, but it can also be a challenge.

Yes, we are free and independent. We don’t have to go to the office or listen to a boss. As freelancers, our lives are our own, to do with as we wish.

But we are also alone, and it isn’t always easy to start the week fully motivated.

We are in free flight, without a parachute, flying low to the ground, and trying to stay aloft and achieve our dreams…but sometimes we need a little push, a little inspiration.

Which brings me to this morning’s spark…some free flight, literally… courtesy of the remarkable Jeb Corliss.

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4 Examples of Effective Headline Design.

headline design for web contentHeadline design? What does that mean?

It means writing and formatting your headline in a way that makes it jump out from the page, or email, or a smartphone.

It used to be that headlines had to do a single job, on the web page where the balance of the content followed. Read the headline, and then keep reading the body text immediately below.

Today, headlines still have to work well, immediately above the body content, but they also have to grab attention and hook readers when they stand alone.

Here are a few situations where your headline has to stand alone, or almost alone: When used as a tweet on Twitter. In an RRS feed. On a smartphone. In Reddit or Digg.

In these circumstances, your headline has to jump out from dozens of others, and get the reader to click through to the full page or post.

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Social media enables conversation. But do you?

using social media as a broadcast medium, talking at peopleOver the last few days I have been putting together a presentation about how to drive engagement through social media.

As I looked for examples, a couple of things struck me.

First, engagement is just a trendy word for conversation, and conversation is a big word for talking. In other words, social media is about talking with people.

Second, I discovered that almost nobody was actually using social media as a means to talk with people.

By far the most common use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social sites was simply to talk at people. Here is what I’m doing. Here is what I’m thinking. Here is what I have written. Here is some news about our latest product or service.

In other words, most companies are still using social media as a broadcast medium.

However, I did find companies that were taking the trouble to talk with their prospects and customers through social media.

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Your new site visitors and subscribers don’t know who you are, yet. [TIMELINE]

Yesterday I was reading an excellent post by Chris Brogan, Start Fresh.

In his post he talks about how while you move forward with your career, many of your readers have stepped in half way through the narrative. They may not know where you “came from” or how and why you do what you are doing today.

Very good point.

For myself, I have been earning my living as a writer for 30 years now, and I have been publishing my online newsletter for over 10 years.

I guess a small proportion of my current newsletter readers have been with me from the beginning. But I’m sure most haven’t.

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