Archive for the 'Life Advice for Writers' Category

Dec 31 2012

What PPC Adwriters Do & How to Get an Adwriting Job

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Brief Overview of the Job

I’m an adwriter specializing in online pay-per-click advertising.  My main job responsibilities are:

  1. Writing Google/Bing ads which attract as many likely customers to our clients as possible.
  2. Managing the campaigns, keywords, and price-settings to do #1 as cost-efficiently as possible.
  3. Working with our design team to convert as many of the people that click on our ads into actual customers as possible. I write copy and help with design planning. #3 is probably a larger part of my job than for most people in similar positions.

 

My other job functions include writing blog posts and webpages for clients and calculating rate-of-return on our ad-spend (i.e. figuring out whether our ads are profitable and how to make them more profitable).
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Dec 19 2012

Have You Had a Writing-Heavy Day Job? Share Your Experience

One young writer emailed today about writing jobs. If you’d be interested in sharing your experience and building your online presence, please write an article about a writing position you’ve held. (Preferably this article would help a college student or recent graduate learn more about the job and/or land it).

 

If you’d like some ideas to get you started, here are some points which could help:

  • Brief overview of the job.
  • What does a typical workday or week look like?
  • What is most challenging about your job?
  • What did you like most about your job? Least?
  • What sort of coursework and/or extracurricular experience might be helpful for succeeding in this job? (For example, if you’re interested in writing online ads, the ability to automate basic tasks in Excel will make your life a LOT easier).
  • Skills/traits most important to getting position.
  • Interview tips.
  • Resume tips.
  • Anything you wish you had known about the job before you started or when you were in college.
  • Knowing what you do now, is there anything you would have done to prepare for the job?
  • Any resources you would recommend for people looking to get into this field.

 

Optional Details

  • As long as the article gives a decent introduction to a writing job, everything else is flexible.
  • If you would benefit from a length guideline rather than something more open-ended, many of our articles are in the 250-500 word range.
  • If you’d prefer a structure to follow, you can use this as a template if you’d like.

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Jan 17 2012

How to Write a Successful Cover Letter

1. As always, be smart–the competition is pretty fierce.  I have superbly qualified candidates with postgraduate degrees and years of experience applying for a minimum wage writing internship.  If a prospective writer has typos in his cover letter and/or resume, he’s probably not in the running. I’ll assume that you’re pretty smart and already have the basics down (proofread, address it to a human reader if at all possible, stick with a one page resume unless you have 20+ years of experience and/or are applying for a professorship, etc).

 

2.  Make your cover letter as specific as possible–what have you achieved?  I’d much rather read examples showing traits you have than you just telling me which traits you have.  For example, rather than just telling me you have drive, describe a job where you demonstrated drive.  Instead of telling me you’re creative and/or a problem-solver, tell me about a time you creatively solved a major problem.  (Alternately, if it’s applicable to the position*, look at what they’re producing and offer a concrete suggestion for improvement.  I was pleasantly surprised that one candidate looked at our website and offered an idea that was worth considering–it gives me a better idea that the candidate has something to contribute and will fit in better into our creative process).

*But keep it as tailored to the position as possible.  Entry-level employees generally aren’t hired for their ability to make huge strategic decisions and it might look pretentious for a prospective intern without any experience in the field to propose changes that would be better-suited for the board of directors.

 

3. Be friendly, not unlikable.  For example, if a company has a silly application requirement (like a “if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” essay question), your options are either 1) fulfill the requirement in a professional way or 2) don’t apply to that company if you dislike the requirement that much. Applying with an essay about how much you hated writing the essay and/or found it pointless would be a waste of time.  If the job description was absolutely idiotic, perhaps because it was written by a Human Resources professional that was not at all familiar with the position, be classy and professional.

  • PROFESSIONAL: “I believe I’d be a very good fit for this position, having 5 years of experience programming for [company] in HAXIMUS, although I do not yet have the required 10 years of experience with HAXIMUS.  There may have been a typo in the job description, since HAXIMUS was introduced 8 years ago.  [Follow up with a paragraph about a notable project you’ve successfully completed with HAXIMUS].”
  • REJECTED: “Whoever wrote that job description is obviously an idiot.”  This candidate should think more about how he/she is demonstrating his ability to work with and assist coworkers that have bitten off more than they can chew, especially considering that the person that wrote the idiotic job description is probably a Human Resources staffer reading the applications.

 

4. Please make sure that you tailor your cover letter and resume for each particular position.  One easy way to do so is to take 2 or 3 traits and/or key responsibilities from the job description and spend a paragraph covering specific achievements that show you have each trait or have demonstrated the ability to perform the job responsibility.  If you do so in a remotely coherent way (and are at least remotely qualified), I can pretty much guarantee that the reader will at least glance at your resume.

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Nov 05 2011

How to Write a Cover Letter That Is Both Modest and Confident

Earlier I linked a cover letter that was both modest and confident.   How can a cover letter be both?

1. Any claim that you can back up is not immodest.  For example, J.K. Rowling can modestly and honestly say that she has been the most successful fantasy author in the world over the past decade or so.  Granted, you’re probably not as accomplished in your field as she is in hers, but you almost certainly can back up some claims about your qualifications for a particular position, based on your work history, letters of reference and (as a last resort) your educational experience.  (If you can’t come up with some evidence of your qualifications, why are you applying for the position?)

 

2.  If you must make an opinionated claim in your cover letter, at least have someone relevant back up the opinion.  For example, “I’m the best writer at my company” is much less persuasive than “In my last performance evaluation, my supervisor wrote I was ‘the best writer in the company.'”  If you just give the reader your opinion without any reason to believe that your opinion is actually correct, it will probably sound like empty bragging.  Alternately, you can give evidence to back up your claim.  For example, instead of saying you’re an awesome writer, you might say “I’ve been published in The Onion, Martha Stewart Magazine and Heavy Weaponry“* or have received awards A and B, successfully performed crucial job responsibilities C and D at a previous job and/or accomplished goals E or F.  It’s probably not that hard to find and/or do something remotely impressive. For example, if you write a blog that’s had even 20,000 readers, that’s a start. (As a point of comparison, I reached 20,000 readers after about six months of decidedly clueless high school blogging.  If you wanted to, you could probably do it significantly faster).

*If Martha Stewart Magazine had more articles by authors published in Heavy Weaponry, I might actually read it.

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Jul 05 2011

Financial Advice for High School Writers: How to Minimize College Debt

I know some graduates that have $100,000-$150,000 of student debt and it will probably take them 10-20 years to pay it off.  Here are some tips about how to graduate from college with as little debt as possible.

1. If you’re still in high school, I highly recommend taking as many Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses as possible. Several of my classmates entered college as juniors because they had enough AP credit. That will give you the option of graduating 1-2 years early, which would save you tens of thousands of dollars. Alternately, if you’re really committed to spending four years in college, you could spend two years doing an undergraduate degree and then two years getting a master’s degree.

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