Search Engine Optimization Statistics Infographic

SEO statistics infographic

Is all that work optimizing your site for search engines really worth it? Will publishing quality content help? Check out these amazing stats about organic traffic and you’ll see the answer to both questions is a resounding YES!

WaterCopy SEO Statistics Infographic

Do you have trouble producing enough content to satisfy your audience?  Do you need help producing white papers and case studies? Lack the time to write those blogs, that newsletter article?

I am an expert water quality scientist with experience in the water industry. I understand the science behind your solutions.  I can interpret the jargon.  I can explain complex ideas in simple terms and compel your prospects into action.  Contact me to discuss your next content project.

CONTACT A BLOG PLANNER/WRITER

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The Truth about Your Content: Five steps to more persuasive writing

more persuasive writing

Introduction

Is your content ‘talking’ to your audience? Would more persuasive writing increase your content’s ROI?

The whole point of marketing is to start a one-on-one conversation between two people. Ultimately a conversation between your sales person and their CFO.

Your product is complex and technical. That’s fine.  But if your content is hard to understand the conversation may never get started.  You need to simplify the language in your content to make your complex, technical product understandable.

In this post, we look at five steps you more persuasive writing. First let’s look at how readability is assessed by most word processing software.

Readability: Flesch Kincaid (FK) Explained

The Flesch Kincaid readability assessment was developed to assess the difficulty of reading materials for upper elementary through secondary grades.  Although the FK test was developed to assess reading material for students, the FK score is basically about the readability of the text.  A scale based on a formula.

The FK score is assessed on these factors in a piece of writing:

  • # of letters per word: more letters, more difficult to read.
  • # of words per sentence: more words, more difficult to read. 
  • # of sentences per paragraph: more sentences, more difficult to read.
  • % passive sentences: more passive sentences, more difficult to read.

Most word processing software reviews documents and reports on two FK parameters:

  • Flesch reading ease, and
  • FK grade level score.

The Flesch reading ease assessment is reported as a percent and the higher the score the better. On the other hand, for persuasive content, an FK grade level score of 8 or less is best.

Although the FK score can help you improve the clarity of your writing, it does have drawbacks.  For instance, in writing water industry content, you will need to use some jargon and technical terms. Just be aware that your FK score may creep up if you rely too much on these less familiar and less used terms.

Remember too, that while bad readability scores often reflect poor writing, good readability scores do not by themselves mean the writing is good.

Now on to the five steps that will start you on your road to more persuasive writing.

Step #1: Find one emotionally compelling idea

The most powerful aid to more persuasive writing is to identify one emotionally compelling idea.  One that engages the reader both emotionally and rationally. When you try to write about many things your message becomes diluted.

more persuasive writing

It doesn’t have to be factual. But it does need to feel like it is or should be true. It must be so emotionally attractive the reader will want to believe it.

An emotionally compelling idea should generate a feeling of discovering something new and useful.  Something new to think about and share.

How to find that emotionally compelling idea.

There is no substitute for research.  You need to know the topic – your product or service – and its features and benefits. You need to know your audience and their needs. 

It always helps to start with a brainstorming session.  Whether alone or with your team, think about all the features and benefits of your product or service.  If an emotionally compelling idea doesn’t jump off the page, which it most likely won’t, more research is required.

more persuasive writing

Keyword research identifies topics that people are searching for. Keep and maintain a list of keywords and keyword phrases. Find out what your audience is interested in, what they want to learn about.

After further research into features and benefits and your audience’s needs, you then repeat the brainstorming activity. Itemize the benefits and turn each into one emotionally compelling idea.

Put that emotionally compelling idea right up front

Studies have shown that people like to know what they’re in for right from the start.  Put your emotionally compelling idea right up front.  In primary school, they taught us that when writing a report, you should:

Tell them what you are going to tell them,

tell them,

then tell them what you told them.

It still applies today.  Put the emotionally compelling idea up front and draw your audience through to the call-to-action. You can help your reader by:

  • Stating the subject of an email in the subject line.
  • Including an executive summary with a white paper.
  • Stating the basic facts about a news item in the first sentence or two of a news release.
  • Providing an introduction, regardless of the length of your document.

Step #2: Use an easy-to-read style

More persuasive writing uses an easy-to-read style. Your reader can then focus on your message rather than muddling through dense text.  These three tricks will help you develop that easy-to-read style.

Trick #1: Use personal pronouns

Using personal pronouns gives your writing a conversational tone.  Personal pronouns seem to connect the reader to the writer.  A conversational tone helps your reader focus on your message rather than your language. 

Just be sure that personal pronouns are right for the content.  It may not be appropriate in every situation.

Trick #2: Avoid jargon

It’s easy to be drawn to words that are common in your industry. But are they common to your audience?  When writing for non-specialists and you have a choice between words, use the common, everyday word.

more persuasive writing

A couple further pointers on word choice:

  • Use positive words. Negatives like don’t in front of a verb can make some readers stumble.
  • Avoid long strings of nouns. Sentences with several nouns in a row can be difficult to navigate.
  • Use inclusive language. Unless your document is about men, don’t use only male pronouns (he, his).

Sometimes you may have to use a technical term, even when you’re writing for non-specialists. In that case, choose words that will help your readers. 

Trick #3: Avoid padding with words like very, really, actually, or carefully

These words don’t serve any purpose.  Keep in simple, keep it easy to understand.

Step #3: Keep it concise and to the point

When writing about complex technical subjects, you need to construct your sentences carefully. More persuasive writing uses direct, simple sentences.  In fact, long sentences almost always have complex grammatical structures.  This puts a strain on the reader’s immediate memory.  The reader has to retain several parts of each sentence before he can combine them into a meaningful whole.

Here are a few tricks to help you keep concise and to the point:

Trick #1: Keep sentences and paragraphs short.

The average length of your sentences should be 20 words or fewer.

Trick #2: Sentences should focus on one idea

Keep it simple. Cover only one idea per sentence and one theme per paragraph. Get to the point; don’t wander around first.  Find one emotionally compelling idea, as we discussed in the earlier in this post.

Trick #3: Use the active voice

Use the active voice.  The passive voice tends to seem evasive:

The standards were breached.

Who breached the standards? As a reader, you might think: Is the writer trying to hide something from me? If you don’t want to appear to be hiding something, you should use an active voice:

The refinery breached a water quality standard.

Step #4: Make it skim-able

You can make your document more persuasive by providing cues that promote skimming.  There are a couple tricks you can use to help these readers out.

more persuasive writing

Trick #1: Use headings

Headings show your readers how your document is organized.  And they let your reader skim the text to find the information they’re looking for.  Readers on the Internet tend to move on to something else if they don’t find what they’re looking for quickly.  In longer documents, add a table of contents at the beginning, too.

There are several ways to write a heading.  You can state it as a question, as a phrase, or as a declarative sentence:

  • Question. “Are there two kinds of people in the world?”
  • Phrase. “Two kinds of people in the world”
  • Declarative sentence. “There are two kinds of people in the world.”

Trick #2: Break up blocks of text with bulleted/numbered lists

Lists are easy for readers to skim. Choose numbers when presenting a list with items in a specific sequence or rank order. Use bullets when the items listed are equivalent in importance.

These tricks improve readability because:

  • They make it easier for readers to find what they want.
  • They make your content less intimidating by breaking it up visually.

Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye

Long blocks of text can intimidate readers.  Persuasive writing is easy to read in a visual sense, making it easier for the reader to understand your key message.

You can soothe the reader’s eye by using white space. Use adequate margins and space between sections. Keep paragraphs short.  The lists help break up text and provide relief to the eye as well as enhancing its skim-ability.

Visual tools can help explain your content.

  • Infographics provide a clear visual representation of data, relationships, or ideas.
  • Tables can help comparisons and show relationships without using a lot of text.
  • Lists group similar items. Numbered lists are ideal for items that are sequenced or ranked; other lists may be bulleted.
  • Other visual tools include inserts, charts, maps, and checklists.

Make sure the tool you use matches your content and the needs of your audience. You can’t explain everything with a pie chart!

Conclusion

In this post we see how plain language improves understanding.  Understanding leads to trust, and ultimately to action from your prospect. Action that can lead to a one-on-one conversation between two people.

Your product is complex and technical. Simplify the language in your content to make your complex, technical product more easily understood. Take these five steps to more persuasive writing:

  1. Find one compelling idea
  2. Use an easy-to-read style
  3. Keep it concise and to the point
  4. Make it skim-able
  5. Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye

To keep these five steps in mind while writing, download and print the handy checklist:

Five Steps to More Persuasive Writing – A plain language checklist to simplify your writing

GET YOUR FREE CHECKLIST HERE!

Contact WaterCopy for all your content writing requirements.

CONTACT ME

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Categories SEO

FREE DOWNLOAD: A useful plain language checklist

plain language

FREE DOWNLOAD: A useful plain language checklist

Is your content ‘talking’ to your audience?

plain languageThe whole point of marketing is to start a one-on-one conversation between two people.  Ultimately a conversation between your sales person and their business manager.

Your product is complex and technical.  That’s fine.  But if your content is hard to understand the conversation may never get started.  You need to simplify the language in your content to make your complex, technical product understandable.

Download this useful checklist and keep it handy for when you write your next white paper, case study or blog post.  Make your content more easily understood. More believable. More persuasive.

 

Download Your Free Checklist

 

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Five simple steps to start the conversation (Part 5)

readability

We have found an emotionally compelling idea, adopted an easy-to-read style, and kept it concise and to the point.  We have made it skim-able by adding headings and lists. The last step is to complete your structure work.  This week Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye.

Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye

Readers can be intimidated by long blocks of text.  Making content easy to read in a visual sense will make it easier for the reader to understand your key message.

You can soothe the reader’s eye by using white space. Use adequate margins and space between sections. Keep paragraphs short.  The lists we discussed last week help break up text and provide relief to the eye as well as enhancing its skim-ability.

Visual tools can help explain your content.

  • Infographics provide a clear visual representation of data, relationships, or ideas.
  • Tables can help comparisons and show relationships without using a lot of text.
  • Lists group similar items. Numbered lists are ideal for items that are sequenced or ranked; other lists may be bulleted.
  • Other visual tools include inserts, charts, maps, and checklists.

Make sure the tool you use matches your content and the needs of your audience. You can’t explain everything with a pie chart!

Conclusion

In this series we have seen how plain language improves understanding.  Understanding leads to trust, and ultimately to action from your prospect.  Take these 5 simples steps to start the conversation:

  1. Find one compelling idea.
  2. Use an easy-to-read style.
  3. Keep it concise and to the point.
  4. Make it skim-able
  5. Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye.

 

To keep these simple steps in mind while writing, download and print the handy checklist:

Checklist 5 Simple Steps to Start the Conversation

Download Your Free Checklist

 

Contact Water Copy for all your content writing requirements.

CONTACT ME

 

 

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Five simple steps to start the conversation (Step 4)

readability

We have found that if you find an emotionally compelling idea, adopt an easy-to-read style, and keep it concise and to the point, your content will be easier to understand.  This week and next we look at ways to structure your document to make it easier to read.  This week Step #4: Make it skim-able.

Step #4: Make it skim-able

You can make your document more user-friendly by providing cues that promote skimming.  There are a couple tricks you can use to help these readers out.

Trick #1: Use headings

Headings show your readers how your document is organized.  And they let your reader skim the text to find the information they’re looking for.  Readers on the Internet tend to move on to something else if they don’t find what they’re looking for quickly.  In longer documents, add a table of contents at the beginning, too.

There are several ways to write a heading.  You can state it as a question, as a phrase or as a declarative sentence:

  • “Are there two kinds of people in the world?”
  • “Two kinds of people in the world”
  • Declarative sentence. “There are two kinds of people in the world.”

 

Trick #2: Break up blocks of text with bulleted/numbered lists

Lists are easy for readers to skim. Choose numbers when presenting a list with items in a specific sequence or rank order. Use bullets when the items listed are equivalent in importance.

Conclusion

These tricks improve readability because:

  • They make it easier for readers to find what they want.
  • They make your content less intimidating by breaking it up visually.

 

Do you have a white paper or case study that didn’t bring the return on investment you had hoped for?  Perhaps it needs a Readability Revamp. 

I am a water quality scientist with fantastic writing skills.  I offer a service that can improve your content’s ROI.  I take the text and bring the FK score down.  I improve the readability without “dumbing” it down. By increasing understanding, I help your readers take the action you desire.

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

 

 CONTACT ME

 

Stay tuned next week for Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye

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Five simple steps to start the conversation (Step 3)

readability

We now know that if you find one emotionally compelling idea and adopt an easy-to-read style your content will be easier to understand.  This week we look at Step #3: Write concisely and to the point.

Step #3: Write concisely and to the point

When writing about complex technical subjects, you need to construct your sentences carefully.  Direct, simple sentences will help get your point across.  In fact, long sentences almost always have complex grammatical structures.  This puts a strain on the reader’s immediate memory.  The reader has to retain several parts of each sentence before he can combine them into a meaningful whole.

Here are a few tricks to help you keep concise and to the point:

Trick #1: Keep sentences and paragraphs short.

The average length of your sentences should be 20 words or fewer

Trick #2: Sentences should focus on one idea

Keep it simple. Cover only one idea per sentence and one theme per paragraph. Get to the point; don’t wander around first.  Find one emotionally compelling idea, as we discussed in the first post in the series.  Find it here.

Trick #3: Use the active voice

Use the active voice.  The passive voice tends to seem evasive:

The standards were breached.

Who breached the standards? As a reader, you might think: Is the writer trying to hide something from me? If you don’t want to appear to be hiding something, you should use active voice:

The refinery breached a water quality standard.

Conclusion

Keep you writing concise and to the point.  Keep sentences short and focused on one idea. Use the active voice.

 

Do you have a white paper or case study that didn’t bring the return on investment you had hoped for?  Perhaps it needs a Readability Revamp. 

I am a water quality scientist with fantastic writing skills.  I offer a service that can improve your content’s ROI.  I take the text and bring the FK score down.  I improve the readability without “dumbing” it down. By increasing understanding, I help your readers take the action you desire.

 

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

 

 CONTACT ME

 

Stay tuned next week for Step #4: Make it skim-able

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Five simple steps to start the conversation (Step 2)

readability

We saw in last week’s post that if you find one emotionally compelling idea it will be much easier to write clearly and concisely.  This week we look at Step #2: Use an easy-to-read style.

Step #2: Use an easy-to-read style

When you use an easy-to-read style, your reader can focus on your message rather than muddling through dense text.  These three tricks can help you develop that easy-to-read style.

Trick #1: Use personal pronouns

Using personal pronouns gives your writing a conversational tone.  Personal pronouns seem to connect the reader to the writer.  And that conversational tone helps your reader focus on your message rather than your language.

Just be sure that personal pronouns are right for the content.  It may not be appropriate in every situation.easy-to-read style

Trick #2: Avoid jargon

It’s easy to be drawn to words that are common in your industry. But are they common to your audience?  When writing for non-specialists and you have a choice between words, use the common, everyday word.

A couple further pointers on word choice:

  • Use positive words. Negatives like don’t in front of a verb can make some readers stumble.
  • Avoid long strings of nouns. Sentences with several nouns in a row can be difficult to navigate.
  • Use inclusive language. Unless your document is about men, don’t use only male pronouns (he, his).

Sometimes you may have to use a technical term, even when you’re writing for non-specialists. In that case, choose words that will help your readers.

Trick #3: Avoid padding with words like very, really, actually, or carefully

These words don’t serve any purpose.  Keep in simple, keep it easy to understand.

Conclusion

By adopting an easy-to-read style, you can start a conversation by engaging your audience.  Use personal pronouns, where appropriate.  Avoid jargon by choosing the right word. Avoid padding your text with words that serve no purpose.

 

Do you have a white paper or case study that didn’t bring the return on investment you had hoped for?  Perhaps it needs a Readability Revamp.

I am a water quality scientist with fantastic writing skills.  I offer a service that can improve your content’s ROI.  I take the text and bring the FK score down.  I improve the readability without “dumbing” it down. By increasing understanding, I help your readers take the action you desire.

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

 CONTACT ME

 

Stay tuned next week for Step #3: Keep it concise and to the point

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Five simple steps to start the conversation

readability

Introduction

Is your content ‘talking’ to your audience?

The whole point of marketing is to start a one-on-one conversation between two people.  Ultimately a conversation between your sales person and their business manager. one compelling idea

Your product is complex and technical.  That’s fine.  But if your content is hard to understand the conversation may never get started.  You need to simplify the language in your content to make your complex, technical product understandable.

In this series of posts, we look at how to simplify your writing using five simple steps.  But first we should understand how readability is assessed.

Readability: Flesch Kincaid (FK) Explained

The Flesch Kincaid readability assessment was developed to assess the difficulty of reading materials for upper elementary through secondary grades.  Although the FK test was developed to assess reading material for students, the FK score is basically about the readability of the text.  A scale based on a formula.

The FK (as it is known) looks at these factors in a piece of writing:

  • # of letters per word: more letters, more difficult to read.
  • # of words per sentence: more words, more difficult to read.
  • # of sentences per paragraph: more sentences, more difficult to read.
  • % passive sentences: more passive sentences, more difficult to read.

Word processing software can review documents and report on two FK parameters:

  • Flesch reading ease, and
  • FK grade level.

The Flesch reading ease assessment is reported as a percent and the higher the better.  And for persuasive content writing, a FK grade level score of 8 or less is best.

Although the FK score can help you improve the clarity of your writing, it does have drawbacks.  Of course, you should avoid jargon and technical terms as much as possible but sometimes it just can’t be helped.  Just be aware that your FK score may creep up if you rely too much on these less familiar and less used terms.

Remember, a bad readability score does mean reading will be difficulty.  But a good readability score does not in itself mean the writing was good.

 

Now on to Step #1 of 5 that will start you on your road to content that is easily understood.

Step #1: Find one emotionally compelling idea

The most powerful aid to clear, concise writing is to identify an emotionally compelling idea.  One that engages the reader or listener on two levels: emotionally and rationally.

It doesn’t have to be factual. But it does need to feel like it is or should be true. It must be so emotionally attractive the reader wants to believe it.one compelling idea

An emotionally compelling idea must generate a feeling of discovering something new and useful.  Something new to think about and share.

How to find that emotionally compelling idea.

There is no substitute for research.  You need to know the topic – your product – and its features and benefits. You need to know your audience and their needs.

It always helps to start with a brainstorming session.  Whether alone or with your team, think about all the features and benefits of your product.  If an emotionally compelling idea doesn’t jump off the page, which it most likely won’t, more research is required.

After further research into features/benefits and your audience’s needs, you then repeat the brainstorming activity.  Once you really understand the values and benefits, one benefit will stand out.  Turn that one benefit into an emotionally compelling idea.

Put that emotionally compelling idea right up front

First things first.  By putting your main message right up front, your reader is more likely to come away with at least that message.  You can help your reader by:

  • Stating the subject of an email in the subject line.
  • Including an executive summary with a white paper.
  • Stating the basic facts about a news item in the first sentence or two of a news release.

An introduction is also helpful, regardless of the length of your document.

Conclusion

Studies have shown that people like to know what they’re in for right from the start.  Put your emotionally compelling idea right up front.  In primary school, they taught us that when writing a report, you should:

  • Tell them what you are going to tell them,
  • tell them,
  • then tell them what you told them.

It still applies today.  Put the emotionally compelling idea up front and draw your audience through to the call-to-action.

 

Do you have a white paper or case study that didn’t bring the return on investment you had hoped for?  Perhaps it needs a Readability Revamp. 

I am a water quality scientist with fantastic writing skills.  I offer a service that can improve your content’s ROI.  I take the text and bring the FK score down.  I improve the readability without “dumbing” it down. By increasing understanding, I help your readers take the action you desire.

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

 CONTACT ME

 

Stay tuned next week for Step #2: Use an easy-to-read style

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Does your water industry writer have these 5 key skills? (Final)

research skills

So far in this series we have seen the importance of writing well, water knowledge, understanding your prospects, and research skills.  This week, in the final post of the series we discuss Skill #5.

Skill #5:           Planning Skills

Writers have a dubious reputation when it comes to planning and project management.  You need a writer who can plan your content project and carry out that plan.  You need to know your content investment, which may be significant, will provide a good ROI.

You need to make sure that your efforts are focused on achieving business objectives.  It’s not about the content.  It’s about the business outcomes that the content can achieve.

What should be in the plan?

  • Goals: Ensure the content will align with your business goals.
  • Audience: Be clear about your target audience.
  • Content asset: Make sure the type of content is right for the target audience.
  • Call to action: Identify what you want the prospect to do after accessing the content.
  • Keywords: List keywords your target audience is searching for.
  • Research: Describe sources for further research
  • Overview: Outline a high-level overview of the content.
  • Review: Streamline the review process by identifying all reviewers in the plan.

Each content project must be planned, no matter how seemingly trivial.  You should find a writer that appreciates the importance of planning.  A writer who can help you plan and can then execute that plan.

Conclusion

We have explored 5 key skills your water industry writer should have:

  • Writing well. Able to convey complex scientific and technical information in clear concise language.
  • Water knowledge. Able to explain and illustrate large data sets using graphs, tables, conceptual diagrams, infographics.
  • Understands the water industry audience. Knows your prospects’ pain points and understands how your audience can change through the sales funnel.
  • Research skills. Able to find the evidence that proves your process and translate complex jargon into plain language.
  • Planning skills. Able to plan and execute the project effectively and efficiently.

If you want to build awareness of your products and services, you must publish quality content.  Of course, your company is full of talented people.  They all work hard in their core areas.  Pulling people out of productive roles to write content may not be cost effective.

In that case, hiring a freelance writer is the best option.  Finding a writer is easy.  Finding a good, much less an excellent one, is tough.

So, next time you’re looking for a freelance writer, be sure to check for the five skills we’ve looked at here.

 

To keep these key skills in mind, download and print the handy infographic:

5 Key Skills You Want in a Water Industry Writer

DOWNLOAD A FREE INFOGRAPHIC

 

Contact Water Copy for all your content writing requirements.

CONTACT ME

 

 

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Does your water industry writer have these 5 key skills? (Part 3)

research skills

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been looking at how to pick a writer.  How to choose the best writer for water industry content marketing.  We have seen how important writing well and water knowledge are.  In this week’s post, we look at Skill #3: Understanding the Water Industry Audience.

Skill #3:           Understanding the Water Industry Audience

A key skill crucial to being able to write persuasively is the ability to understand your audience.  In the water industry, the sales funnel is long.  There are many people involved in every purchase.

Your writer needs to understand who your prospects are and how their personas change through the funnel.  At each stage of the funnel, these people have different information needs.  Different pain points.

Wouldn’t it be great to find a writer who knows your prospects and their pain points?  Pain points that your products and services help alleviate.  Things like:

  • Water supply – quality and cost
  • Wastewater – quality vs. disposal costs
  • Compliance with water quality discharge standards.

Water quality is important to your prospects.  It influences how the wastewater is treated and how it can be used. Water quality determines wastewater discharge options.  Water quality impacts the bottom line of your prospects’ business.

But there is something else about your prospects that’s harder to pin down.  It’s their desire to do the right thing.  To be involved in managing water sustainably.  To be contributing to our environmental resilience.

There is no reason why your prospects should not be seen doing the right thing. You want a writer that understands that.  A writer that can weave that story of resilience and sustainability into every white paper, every case study.

Finding a writer that understands your audience may be difficult but you will be glad you did.

 

I am an expert water quality scientist with experience in the water industry. I know your prospects.  I regulated them.  I inspected their operations.  I set the water quality standards they must meet.  In other words, I know their pain points.  I can help you engage with your prospects.  Enable you to provide the information they need, when they need it. 

 

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

CONTACT ME

 

Next week Skill #4:       Research Skills

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