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E-Book Testimonials

"Thomas Clifford has made something useful here. This report will give you some really catchy, useful ideas.

It made me reconsider how I do what I do, so you might give it a look-see, too!" 

Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works 


"Tom Clifford is by trade a filmmaker. For most of his life, he rarely wrote anything longer than a brief comment in the margin of a script. 

Now, though, he's producing tens of thousands of words a year, first as a Fast Company "Expert Blogger," and then as a writer for the Content Marketing Institute. 

How did Tom go from a non-writer to a prolific and much-read one? His eBook, '5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways . . . , ' holds some of his secrets."

Mark Levy, Author of "Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content"


“Tom is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet—if you have the privilege to meet him. And he does sterling work as well. But don’t just take my word for it.

Read this free report and you’ll not just love its tone and content, but learn a lot as well.”

Sean D’Souza, Psychotactics.com


“Anyone who wants to improve their writing needs this e-book. A lot of ebooks are short because they just don’t have much substance to offer. They’re not worth your time (and so are many of the long ones, too, for that matter). Tom’s is short because he’s so good at giving you only what you need to know. 

‘5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier’ lives up to its promise by example as well as in the words themselves. Tom used the very same techniques he teaches you to write this book. 

And what’s in here is not just a rehash of the same tired ideas you find coming from people who have suddenly fancied themselves as writing gurus. There are tricks in here I never heard of (like the Writing Funnel) and some I had forgotten about and was glad to be reminded of (like Sporadic Writing).” 

Michael Martine, Blog Alchemist, Remarkablogger.com 


Monday
Aug232010

Celebrating Four Years of Blogging 

It's hard to believe but, yeah, it's been four years of writing articles on a variety of business communication topics, including:

I honestly couldn't have done come this far without you and your support.

Thank you for being part of the journey. I truly appreciate it.

Tom

PS. As always, if there's a topic you'd like me to write about or expand upon, feel free to drop me a note.

Monday
Aug092010

Comfort Zones: How to Nurture Your Communications in 60 Seconds (or Less) 

Your clients won’t say it.
Your vendors won’t say it.
Heck, even your blog readers won’t say it.

They’d love to tell you this, that and the other thing.
But they can’t.
Or won’t.

They’re, um, uncomfortable
Uncomfortable?
Yup.

They’re uncomfortable speaking their mind.

And there’s a ridiculously easy way to solve this little bug-a-boo of a problem.

You create a “comfort zone.”

What’s a “comfort zone?”
A comfort zone is an atmosphere that is created to let people know their thoughts are welcome any time during your communications process.

A comfort zone allows people to feel that their ideas are warmly invited. Comfort zones allow people to express themselves more freely knowing they have a comfort zone.

When do you create a comfort zone?
Creating a comfort zone is best done at the beginning of your communications or engagement process.

Why bother creating a comfort zone?
Creating a comfort zone simply helps you do your business better.

So let's imagine this.

You videotaped your communication with someone. Let’s say it’s a phone call about some new business you’ve just won.

The video is playing back the conversation in slow motion
What might we see?

1. You would hear one word in your client’s head– but hear a different word leave their mouth.

2. You would see one word in your client’s head– but read a different word in their email to you.

You think. You edit. You think. You edit.
They think. They edit. They think. They edit.

This little voice inside your head edits every word and gesture before you act
Of course, editing our thoughts and words is necessary for survival.

Don’t get me wrong; editing is a good thing. Your brain is like a filter that carefully edits ideas for each situation it runs into.

But what if you could open up that funnel a bit more?
You'd get more ideas coming your way, right?

Deliberately creating a comfort zone throughout your communications systems increases the chances that people will be less critical in sharing their ideas with you; thereby creating a situation that benefits everyone.

How do you go about creating a comfort zone?
Easy. You tell your audience they’re in a comfort zone.

1. You tell them at the beginning of your presentation that their ideas or questions are welcomed.
2. You tell your blog readers at the end of your post you welcome their comments.
3. You tell your clients during your initial meetings that you value their input anytime.

So, yes, it’s that simple to create a comfort zone; you just tell them.

Who can create a comfort zone?
Anyone can create a comfort zone; bloggers, managers, small business owners, CEO’s. Really, anyone who wants to improve his or her communications processes can quickly create a comfort zone.

Where can you use a comfort zone?
You can create a comfort zone anywhere you communicate with an audience:
• Emails
• Phone calls
• Presentations
• Blog posts
• Articles
• Social media sites

Will your audience believe in your idea of a comfort zone?
Some may not. You’ll always have a group of people who won’t always share what’s on their mind; that’s fine. Your goal is not to convince them.

Your goal is to create the opportunity for everyone to feel easy and comfortable communicating with you.

What do comfort zones look like in real life?
Let’s look at a few examples, ok?

1.) Presentations
At the beginning of my presentations, I tell everyone that I really love answering questions. I get to play “Google” with their questions. They ask. I answer. I intentionally set the tone so they feel comfortable asking me any question.

2.) Video and audio interviews
Before recording your interview, tell the person you’re interviewing that they’re in a comfort zone. Reassure the person that you look forward to hearing their story and their point of view about the subject at hand. Tell your guest interviewee that you’ll edit out the material that’s not relevant. This is a huge, but simple step to help them feel comfortable while talking to you.

3.) Blogs and blog articles
On your “About Us” page, encourage your readers to email you with their feedback on your site or for ideas in general. Create a comfort zone in your blog articles by asking questions at the end of your article. Intentionally ask for the reader’s feedback, comments or ideas.

Comfort zones can, indeed, quickly improve your communications
1. Anyone can create a comfort zone.
2. It can be verbal or written.
3. Creating comfort zones helps people feel at ease when they want to communicate with you.
4. It’s easy to create comfort zones; you can do it in seconds.
5. Comfort zones can be created and used anywhere you communicate.

Where are you going to create your first comfort zone?
On your LinkedIn profile?
Twitter profile?
About Us page?
Contact Us page?
Next speaking engagement?
Next phone call?

Monday
Jul262010

How to Let Your Articles Breathe

You’re breathing, right?
Good!
Now carefully watch your breath.

Did you feel that tiny pause?
The pause in-between your breaths?
No?

Let’s try another example, then.

Take your favorite CD.
Notice what’s in-between the songs?
Canyouimaginelisteningtoyourfavoritecdwithoutanybreaksinbetweensongs?

Neither can I.

That’s the power of the “pause”
And your articles are no different.

Articles need pauses, too.

Pauses help your content to “breeeeeathe.”

What does it mean to let your article “breathe?”
Letting your article “breathe” means inserting periodic pauses throughout your content.

It’s that simple.

So how do you add pauses to your content?
Here are three quick and simple ways you can pauses in your articles:

1. One type of pause can be as simple as using one sentence (um, like this).

2. A pause can be as simple as using two words.

Like this.

3. Adding bold type is another easy way to add a break in your content.

Combining all three techniques throughout your article helps readers digest your ideas in smaller pieces, instead of plowing through big chunks of text.

And we know what might happen when there’s too much chunky text to take in at once, right? Readers get annoyed and boogie on.

That’s why it’s important to have pauses
Think about the pauses on your CD.

The breaks in-between the songs lets you savor the past while getting you ready for what’s to come. Letting your articles “breathe” by adding breaks does the same thing as the pauses on a CD.

Pauses do three big jobs for your readers
Pauses in articles create:
1. Visually aesthetic reading material (it’s inviting)
2. Forward momentum (it entices continued reading)
3. Time to reflect (so the brain doesn’t have to work so hard)

This “breathing” thing wastes precious space
Or does it?

Here’s what the section above looks like without pauses:

“That’s why is it important to have pauses. Pauses invite action. Think about the pauses on your CD. The pauses in-between the songs lets you savor the past while getting you ready for what’s to come. Letting your articles “breathe” by adding pauses does the same thing as the pauses in a CD. Those pauses do three big jobs for your readers. Pauses in articles create visually aesthetic reading material (it’s inviting); foreword momentum (it entices continued reading) and time to reflect (the brain doesn’t have to work so hard). This “breathing” thing wastes precious space. Or does it?”

Pretty chunky, huh?

Online readers are finicky
They’ll give your article two seconds and then one of two things will happen:

1. They land, scan and leave.

2. Or they settle in and read.

Give your readers a break

Ifyoudonotuseenoughpausesinyourarticlestakeafewminutesandandaddafew
pausesorelseyourreaderswilldisappearbeforeyoureyes.

See what I mean?

Tuesday
Jul202010

How the 10-20-30 Principle Cures Chaotic Writing Schedules

Ever get a song stuck in your head?
Sure you have.

Ah, yes, but have you ever tried to stop it?
And you can’t?

What makes that song so memorable?
The song’s got rhythm, my friend, rhythm!

But wait a minute.

Is your writing schedule as infectious as that rhythm in the song?

If not, then how do you throw some of that good ol’ rhythm into your writing day?

Actually, it’s pretty darn easy.

Just use the 10-20-30 Principle.

What is the 10-20-30 Principle?
The 10-20-30 Principle is a simple schedule to help build up your writing discipline. If you struggle with a disciplined writing schedule, 10-20-30 is flexible and easy to remember.

What are the three components to 10-20-30?
10-20-30 has only three components:
1. 10 minutes of writing
2. 20 minutes break
3. 30 minutes of writing

How does the 10-20-30 Principle work?
10-20-30 is ridiculously easy to master and use. Here’s how it works.

Let’s say you’ve got this idea buzzing around your head. Getting this “buzzing idea” out of your head and onto paper is simple with 10-20-30.

10: Outline for 10 minutes
First, outline your idea. This is where, in 10 minutes or less, you outline your idea so you’ll have some direction for your article. Sculpt your idea into something that has structure and bones. Now you know where the article is headed.

20: Break for 20 minutes
Go grab some coffee, check your email, Twitter or whatever. Create some space before plunging into your article.

30: Write for 30 minutes
Now take 30 minutes and start writing your article. Or blog post. Or whatever.

That’s all there is to it.

What if you don’t finish your outline in 10 minutes?
Do you give up? Change subjects?

If your outline isn’t flowing easily, try doing two things:
1. Ask a friend to ask you questions about your topic. You’ll quickly discover an angle you can write about.
2. Change the topic and perspective. And change it drastically. Instead of writing about cars, write about volunteering. Getting unstuck in one topic requires leaving one world and entering another world.

What if you don’t finish your writing in 30 minutes?
Depending on your schedule, just go about your business and pick up later the same day. Or continue the following day.

But remember: write everyday!

Heck, if you can remember 10-20-30, then you can remember to write. And if you can remember to write for 30 minutes a day, in a few months you’ll feel like you moved mountains!

But moving mountains you're not
You’re moving ideas. And those ideas need a little structure. If you don’t have a foolproof way to keep your writing motivation moving forward, your progress will be slow at best.

The 10-20-30 Principle is like a mental hook your brain can easily remember: 10-20-30.

Pretty simple, huh? And you know what else is neat about the 10-20-30 trick? It keeps you in harmony with your motivation for writing. You feel like writing isn’t a chore; it’s something you’ll want to do.

Why does the 10-20-30 Principle work? What’s the secret behind it?
The secret to successful writing is to write every day. Writing every day is one of the biggest problems facing new writers. It’s darn hard committing yourself to write every single day.

You need a way to break down the large idea of “writing” into tiny chunks of time. Using a rhythm like 10-20-30 breaks your projects down into bite-size chunks.

How flexible is 10-20-30?
It’s super-duper flexible! You can modify it to your liking in a couple of ways:
1. Outline in 10 minutes, take a break for 20 minutes, then write your article for 30 minutes.
2. Outline 10 minutes in the morning. Break during the day. 30 minutes at night.
3. Write 30 minutes in the morning. Break during the day. Outline 10 minutes at night.

Isn’t it kinda crazy to think a rhythm like this can help you?
Sure, you may hate timers and sticking to a schedule. I know– you like to create at your own pace. Here’s the thing. If your work isn’t progressing and you’re struggling with writing every day, then change your rhythm.

Change your rhythm and you will change your output
So yeah, changing your output can be as easy as 10-20-30.

• There’s rhythm everywhere in life.
• Your writing schedule is no exception: it needs rhythm, too.
• Establishing a rhythm is as easy as 10-20-30.
• 10 minutes to outline.
• 20 minutes break (or longer).
• 30 minutes writing.

It’s easy to fall behind without rhythm. A simple solution is sticking to a disciplined, yet flexible schedule.

Writing is learning about structure
You time needs structure, too.

So the next time you fire up your computer to write, remember: 10. 20. 30.

Do you have a different schedule and rhythm? What works for you?

Monday
Jul122010

How the Whack-a-Mole Factor Keeps You from Writing

Ever play Whack-a-Mole when you were a kid?

Whack-a-mole is a popular games at arcades and fairs. The waist-high cabinet has five holes where five plastic moles “pop up” from out of the hole at random times.

What’s your task as a player? To “whack” the “mole” back down into the hole with a rubber mallet before it “pops” back down by itself. Whacking every mole is nearly impossible to do, of course.

All this popping up is designed to keep you distracted

I call it the “Whack-a-Mole” Factor.

And, yes, the Whack-a-Mole Factor may be distracting you from writing.

What is the Whack-a-Mole Factor?
The Whack-a-Mole Factor happens when you set your favorite programs to open automatically. You fire up your computer then, in seconds, all your favorite programs start popping up automatically:
• Word
• Excel
• Outlook
• Firefox

Just like those moles:
• Pop
• Pop
• Pop
• Pop

Now you’re distracted from doing what you know you should do: write.

I know the feeling
It used to happen to me all the time.

Every time I fired up my computer, I had four programs open automatically: Mac Mail, Safari and a Twitter app. This was all really cool– I’d dive right in and catch up with everything that was going on.

But in the back of my head I knew I had to write
I didn’t write.
I was distracted.
“I’ll write later,” I thought.

The Whack-a-Mole Factor got me.

So how can you beat the Whack-a-Mole Factor?
How can you change your program settings so they don’t open automatically?

You can change your program settings in a second.

Right click on the logo of the program you don’t want to open automatically and uncheck “Open at Login.”

Now, when you fire up your computer, you won't be tempted to play around with those pesky and distracting programs.

What if your programs don’t open when you turn on your computer?
You’re a step ahead of the game!

Here’s what you can do to keep your focus on writing.

Go to Word and set it to open automatically. Just right click on the Word icon and choose “Open at Login.” This way, when you power up your computer, Word will be staring you in the face– calling you to write.

The Whack-a-Mole Factor may not seem like a big deal at first
But if you’re like me and you’re looking for any little edge to keep your writing efforts focused, don’t let the moles distract you.

Go to your Word program, right click on the icon and choose “Open at Login.”

Thankfully, you don’t need a rubber mallet to whack the moles from your writing practice.

All you need is a mouse click.

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