Writing Effective Emails

Writing Effective Emails

1. Don’t Overcommunicate by Email

As part of this, you should use the phone or IM to deal with questions that are likely to need some back-and-forth discussion. Use our Communications Planning Tool to identify the channels that are best for different types of message.

Also, email is not as secure as you might want it to be, particularly as people may forward emails without thinking to delete the conversation history. So avoid sharing sensitive or personal information in an email, and don’t write about anything that you, or the subject of your email, wouldn’t like to see plastered on a billboard by your office.

2. Make Good Use of Subject Lines

A newspaper headline has two functions: it grabs your attention, and it summarizes the article, so that you can decide whether to read it or not. The subject line of your email message should do the same thing.

You may want to include the date in the subject line if your message is one of a regular series of emails, such as a weekly project report. For a message that needs a response, you might also want to include a call to action, such as “Please reply by November 7.”

A well-written subject line like the one below delivers the most important information, without the recipient even having to open the email. This serves as a prompt that reminds recipients about your meeting every time they glance at their inbox.

If you have a very short message to convey, and you can fit the whole thing into the subject line, use “EOM” (End of Message) to let recipients know that they don’t need to open the email to get all the information that they need.

3. Keep Messages Clear and Brief

Emails, like traditional business letters, need to be clear and concise. Keep your sentences short and to the point. The body of the email should be direct and informative, and it should contain all pertinent information. See our article on writing skills for guidance on communicating clearly in writing.

Unlike traditional letters, however, it costs no more to send several emails than it does to send just one. So, if you need to communicate with someone about a number of different topics, consider writing a separate email for each one. This makes your message clearer, and it allows your correspondent to reply to one topic at a time.

Thanks for sending that report last week. I read it yesterday, and I feel that Chapter 2 needs more specific information about our sales figures. I also felt that the tone could be more formal.

Also, I wanted to let you know that I’ve scheduled a meeting with the PR department for this Friday regarding the new ad campaign. It’s at 11:00 a.m. and will be in the small conference room.

It’s important to find balance here. You don’t want to bombard someone with emails, and it makes sense to combine several, related, points into one email. When this happens, keep things simple with numbered paragraphs or bullet points, and consider “chunking” information into small, well-organized units to make it easier to digest.

Notice, too, that in the good example above, Monica specified what she wanted Jackie to do (in this case, amend the report). If you make it easy for people to see what you want, there’s a better chance that they will give you this.

4. Be Polite

People often think that emails can be less formal than traditional letters. But the messages you send are a reflection of your own professionalism , values, and attention to detail, so a certain level of formality is needed.

Unless you’re on good terms with someone, avoid informal language, slang, jargon , and inappropriate abbreviations. Emoticons can be useful for clarifying your intent, but it’s best to use them only with people you know well.

5. Check the Tone

When we meet people face-to-face, we use the other person’s body language , vocal tone, and facial expressions to assess how they feel. Email robs us of this information, and this means that we can’t tell when people have misunderstood our messages.

Your choice of words, sentence length, punctuation, and capitalization can easily be misinterpreted without visual and auditory cues. In the first example below, Emma might think that Harry is frustrated or angry, but, in reality, he feels fine.

6. Proofreading

Finally, before you hit “send,” take a moment to review your email for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. Your email messages are as much a part of your professional image as the clothes you wear, so it looks bad to send out a message that contains typos.

As you proofread, pay careful attention to the length of your email. People are more likely to read short, concise emails than long, rambling ones, so make sure that your emails are as short as possible, without excluding necessary information.

Key Points

Remember that your emails are a reflection of your professionalism, values, and attention to detail. Try to imagine how others might interpret the tone of your message. Be polite, and always proofread what you have written before you click “send.”

Six steps for writing professional emails

1. Identify your goal

Before you write an email, ask yourself what you want the recipient to do after they’ve read it. Once you’ve determined the purpose of your email, you can ensure everything you include in your message supports this action. For example, if you want the recipient to review a report you’ve attached, let them know what the report is, why you need them to review it, what sort of feedback you need and when you need the task completed.

2. Consider your audience

When you compose an email message, make sure your tone matches your audience. For example, if you’re emailing a business executive you’ve never met, keep the email polished and free of any jokes or informalities. On the other hand, if you’re emailing a colleague with whom you have a good relationship, you might use a less formal, more friendly approach.

3. Keep it concise

Your audience might have little time to read through your email, so make it as brief as possible without leaving out key information. Try not to address too many subjects at once as this can make your message lengthy, challenging to read and difficult to take action on. When editing your email, take out any information that’s irrelevant to the topic you’re addressing. Use short, simple sentences by removing filler words and extraneous information. This will make your note shorter and easier to read.

4. Proofread your email

An error-free email demonstrates diligence and professionalism. Before you send an email, take a moment to check for any spelling, grammar or syntax errors. Also, double-check to ensure you’ve included any attachments you may have referenced in your message. If it is an important email to critical stakeholders, you might ask your direct supervisor or a trusted colleague to read over it before you send it.

5. Use proper etiquette

Include a courteous greeting and closing to sound friendly and polite. Additionally, be considerate of the recipient and their time. For example, unless it’s an emergency, avoid emailing a contact asking for something after-hours or while they’re on leave.

6. Remember to follow up

Most people receive several emails per day, so they might miss or forget to respond to your message. If the recipient hasn’t replied within two working days, consider reaching back out with a friendly follow-up email.

Next-level email writing moves

Once you’ve got the proper email format and you know what mistakes to avoid, it’s time to focus on making your drafts stand out from the myriad emails most people get every day. Here are four strategies to take yours to the next level:

Think positive

“In the absence of other information, our interpretation often defaults to the negative,” explains communication-etiquette expert Post Senning. “When you’re talking about negative communication, you’re [missing] the information that is tone of voice, the twinkle in your eye, the good humor that you intend something with or even the genuine care or concern with which you’re offering critique. So be really careful. When something reads as negative to you, it probably comes across as even more negative to someone else.”

Strike the right tone

You wouldn’t want to get an email that reads, “Dear [client],” or which references your work in public relations when you’re actually in sales, because it would immediately show that the sender is either mass emailing you, or they didn’t do the proper research and find the right contact. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure that every email you send has a tone that’s crafted specifically for the recipient, and that you’re sending it to the right person.

So even though it may be tempting to use templates, it’s important to personalize it and keep in mind the communication style of the recipient before hitting send. To accomplish this, a quick Google search or a peek at the recipient’s LinkedIn or Twitter feed can do wonders.

Before sending, try putting yourself in the recipient’s shoes for a gut-check on tone and content. And if you have a hard time reading your own tone in email, Grammarly’s tone detector can help you determine how you sound to your recipient.

Follow up—in good time

If you’re sending an email, you’re likely looking for a timely response. But with the large amounts of emails most people sort through each day, things can end up getting lost. As a general rule, a follow-up message should never come less than twenty-four hours after sending the initial email.

In other words: Don’t be the person who sends a follow-up request two hours after sending. In extreme cases, that kind of behavior can even get you blocked. “When you’re taking more time and actually caring about the person on the other side of the email, you’re immediately going to see a much higher response rate. I had to learn that the hard way,” says copy chief Schafer.

Make it easy on the eyes

Most of the messages you send will likely be on the shorter side, which is great for rapid responses and getting things done. But for longer emails, scannability is the name of the game. That’s when things like bolded font, bullet points, underlined sentences, and a TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) section come in handy.

There are a lot of factors to keep in mind when composing an email, and there’s a wide margin of error. But after all is said and done, it isn’t about perfection. It’s about effective communication.

“I think people feel this pressure that you need to be this perfect communicator with this huge vocabulary and these perfectly structured sentences. And I don’t know that that’s always the case because you’re just two people, communicating,” says freelance writer Boogaard.



Tips for Scaling Your Business

How to Scale a Small Business

How to Scale Your Business in 6 Steps

You started a small business and, after lots of ups and downs, the company’s foundations have been set and things are going well. But the business is beginning to approach the point where progress is slowing down and earnings are starting to hit a plateau. These are the signs that it’s time to take the next step forward: it’s time to grow and expand your company.

As challenging as it is to start a business in the first place, the process of enlarging the operation will come with its own hurdles that need to be cleared. You won’t want to embark on the next chapter in your company’s story without first learning about what you should expect and how to handle the challenges ahead.

For that reason, we’ve compiled the top 6 tips for how to scale a business for you so that you’ll be able to perfect your business scaling strategy. Keep reading and discover how to scale your business like an expert…

Applying the six s framework

1. Staff

You can’t scale your venture alone. You need a team of talented, highly motivated staff who believe in the company’s mission. For resource-constrained startups, the right talent can change everything: High performers are 400 percent more productive than the average employee, according to McKinsey. As roles grow in complexity, that productivity number jumps to 800 percent.

When a company is in a rapid growth phase, it often feels easier to hire just anyone who can get the work done. But as Apple Founder Steve Jobs once said: “Go after the cream of the cream. A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.” If you compromise on talent early, it’s harder to backtrack.

“You need to set a high bar for the first few recruits in the venture,” Rayport says. “You can’t compromise on that first wave, because they’ll be the ones who propagate the values of your organization. Pretty soon, they’ll also be hiring the next wave, and they’ll hire performers who are a lot like them.”

2. Shared Values

Shared values represent a company’s culture, and are what defines how employees interact, solve problems, and work with one another, according to Rayport. As individuals encounter challenges and learn how to collectively address them, particular patterns are reinforced and ultimately coalesce into shared values and beliefs about how work gets done.

“Most startups have a culture that is a direct reflection or translation of the founders’ personalities and values,” Rayport says. “And most founders are largely unaware of the outsized impact they have in instilling the culture of their organization.”

One of the biggest scaling challenges around culture is de-personalizing the company’s values, so they feel less like mantras shaped by a few individuals, and more like a shared organizational fabric.

“You need to make those implicit values explicit and take the time to write them down,” Rayport says. “It’s important to separate cultural inputs from outputs. Most ventures describe the culture they want, which are the outputs, as opposed to determining the actions founders can take, or the inputs, to deliver on that culture.”

3. Structure

How you structure your organization is crucial to success. As the company grows, so, too, should the number of decision-makers. The founders can’t be involved in every detail of the business once it scales. It’s important to recruit seasoned leaders with specific skill sets or develop employees who can thrive in environments with more specialized roles.

Training new employees can feel like additional work, but taking the time to properly onboard them pays dividends later. It’s all about creating leverage to deliver on the founders’ vision—and that requires not only recruiting the right people, but structuring their roles and the organization in ways that favor growth. If you don’t let go, your organization won’t scale.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos encourages failure. As he once wrote in a shareholder letter, as reported in Business Insider, “Failure comes part and parcel with invention. It’s not optional. We understand that and believe in failing early and iterating until we get it right.”

Entrepreneurship Essentials - Succeed in the startup world. Learn more.

4. Speed

Most ventures accumulate “technical debt,” which is the price of scaling what works rather than what’s perfect. Over time, tech debt adds up and it’s critical for leaders to find ways to pay it down. That’s the only way you can create the robust business systems and stable infrastructure needed to support increasing scale.

“It’s better to pay down your tech debt as you scale,” Rayport says. “If you have a market opportunity, you don’t want to wait a few months to get your house in order. But sooner or later, you have to upgrade the systems and infrastructure. As Marshall Goldsmith famously said, ‘What got you here won’t get you there.’ It’s important to recognize that each stage requires its own set of approaches.”

5. Scope

On the other side of speed is scope. Rather, where do you look for opportunities? At what point should you consider expanding into new geographies or markets, or building additional products or services? It’s easy to lose focus when you start to scale, but having a map of growth options helps.

“One way to start categorizing your options is by asking, ‘Will I grow by extending existing products into new markets or by selling new products to existing markets?’” Rayport says. “Make decisions rigorously to set your path.”

6. Series X

Financing is one of your most valuable resources, and it’s important to understand how your financing strategy aligns with your growth strategy, according to Rayport. Hiring additional employees and building out the right infrastructure and business processes typically require capital. You need to know both what kind of financing is necessary to support that growth and where you can cut costs.

preparing for scale

Do you want to master a proven framework for building and financing new ventures? Explore our four-week online course Entrepreneurship Essentials, and discover how you can learn the language of the startup world.

About the Author

Lauren Landry is the associate director of marketing and communications for Harvard Business School Online. Prior to joining HBS Online, she worked at Northeastern University and BostInno, where she wrote nearly 3,500 articles covering early-stage tech and education—including the very launch of HBS Online. When she’s not at HBS Online, you might find her teaching a course on digital media at Emerson College, chugging coffee, or telling anyone who’s willing to listen terribly corny jokes.



How to Start a Courier Business | A Step-by-Step Guide (with Video)

how to start a courier business

How to Start a Courier Business | A Step-by-Step Guide (with Video)

How to Start a Courier Business

Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.

If you’re interested in learning how to start a courier business, it’s likely you’ve seen companies who deliver packages to others, and you’re thinking this is something you might be able to do. Like many startup entrepreneurs, you might be concerned about the process of starting the business. You might be concerned about:

In this article, we’ll be discussing all of these things to help you decide if this is a good fit for you, and if it is, how you can begin taking action today. If that sounds interesting to you, let’s get started…If you’d like to see this content in video format, check it out here:

Why Start An Online Tutoring Business?

Tutors start their own businesses for a number of reasons, but one of the primary reasons is the ability to be your own boss. When you operate an online tutoring business, you are able to set your own hours, determine your own hourly rates, and take on as many or as few clients as fit your schedule. The flexibility that comes with tutoring is one of its biggest advantages.

What’s more, becoming a tutor is an excellent way to support students and parents. When you step in as a tutor, you help students learn the skills they need to succeed in the classroom, and you relieve some stress on parents. For many students, a tutor can change the outcome of their educational career. So if you have a heart for students, and a desire to see them grow and succeed, tutoring could be your passion.

In addition, over the past few years, online tutoring has been increasing in popularity. According to IBIS world, the market size of online tutoring services in the US (as measured by revenue) is expected to increase by 4.1% in 2020. There is always a need for educators, especially during the school year and around standardized testing time, and when you become a tutor you help fill that need. If you want to join a growing market, now is a great time to open our own online tutoring business!

When To Sign Up With A Tutoring Service Instead Of Starting Your Own Business

There are a couple of routes you can take to begin tutoring online. You can choose to sign up with an existing online tutoring network (such as Care.com), or you can start your own independent online tutoring business. Your choice between these two options depends on your available resources, your timeline, and your intentions for your business.

  • You Have A Limited Social Network: If you don’t already have a number of potential students in mind, it might be best to join a tutoring website. These sites help connect tutors with students, which can reduce some of the demand that comes with building an entire client base from scratch.
  • You Need To Start Working Immediately: Finding clients and establishing a presence in the tutoring market can take significant time, energy, and money. If you want to skip over this process, signing up with a tutoring site is a great option. You’ll be able to find clients and get teaching much sooner.
  • You Don’t Mind Paying A Fee: Most tutoring sites charge tutors a percentage of their earnings. You should have room in the budget for this expense in order for a tutoring site to be an advantage.
  • You Don’t Want To Set Up The Technical Tools On Your Own: In order to successfully tutor across the internet, you need access to a variety of tools. At minimum, you need a video conferencing tool, a way to share your computer screen, and a virtual whiteboard. Many tutoring sites that specialize in online tutoring (such as Varsity Tutors) offer these tools built into their platforms.

Home Business Ideas

1. Coding

Frontend, backend, and every type of code in between, this skill requires no in-person interaction with your clients. But one skill you’ll want to carry over from the in-person world for this type of business is active listening. It can be easy to zone out while building a product, but developing a connection with the client is just as important as developing the code for their website.

Download Now: Free HTML & CSS Hacks

4. Data Entry Clerk

Many businesses seek data entry clerks to help them enter information into their computer systems and spreadsheets. If you have strong computer and typing skills, this might be the business for you.

5. Audio or Video Editor

As of March 2021, there are 1.75 million podcasts available to listeners. For this reason, brands are turning to audio and visual content to connect with consumers. The catch is that many don’t have the time to invest in the production of this content, or they don’t have the skills to do it. Audio and video editors are in demand when it comes to producing quality content for hungry audiences.

6. Voiceover Artist

Speaking of podcasts and videos, many content creators recognize the value and level of professionalism that great voice talent can bring to a project. There are gigs out there for podcast intros/outros, narration for explainer videos, or even voice work for audiobooks. Learn how to get started with no experience from Kat Theo below:

7. Dog Walker, Groomer, or Trainer

Licensing and insurance will be the two most important factors in opening a dog walking, grooming, or training business, but your canine colleagues will surely make up for the initial red tape. To test the waters before jumping in, consider walking dogs through companies like Rover. Ready to run your own show? Consider a franchise like Dogtopia.

8. Candy Seller

If you grew up in a close-knit, southern neighborhood, you’re probably familiar with the “Candy Lady”. This home business can be started by anyone who’s trustworthy in the community. Aside from selling the most popular snacks, a candy seller can provide the neighborhood with fresh fruit and produce that may be harder to find if you live in a food desert.

9. Online Class Instructor

Tutoring is often done in person and with one client at a time. Remotely teaching an online class offers more flexibility because you can teach multiple students from home. English is a common subject for online classes because of how many people want to learn it. But anything that you have a mastery over could be translated to a virtual class.

10. Small-Batch Goods Seller

Using organic, all-natural ingredients is more expensive, but worth it. There are many products you can learn how to make at home without any preservatives, chemicals, or toxins. Candles, soaps, shampoos, and moisturizers are some examples of goods you can create and tailor with custom scents. Try starting out making soap with this complete beginner’s guide to soapmaking:

Easy Businesses to Start

Whether you’re looking to start your venture today or you simply don’t want to jump through the normal hoops of launching a small business, the below ideas are extremely easy to start — so easy, all you’ll need to do is sign up on a website or tell your friends about your services.

1. Vacation Host

Have you ever used a home-sharing service instead of a hotel? You could make a living by hosting visitors in your own home or renting out a room. Consider becoming a host with companies like Airbnb.

2. Pet Sitter

Do you have a passion for pets? Consider becoming a pet sitter. While the pet’s owners are away on vacation, either host their pet at your home or make visits to their home. Join a pet sitting service like Wag to get started.

small business idea example: pet sitter

3. Daycare Owner

Childcare continues to be in high demand. While nannies and nanny shares are popular right now, a good daycare is hard to find. Fill a need in your neighborhood by opening your own. And, as always, make sure you’re complying with your city and state’s zoning, licensure, insurance, and inspection requirements.

4. Blogger

If there’s a topic you have a heavy interest in, then there’s an audience out there with a heavy interest in it too. A blog can be used to build an online community whose engagement can be monetized. Affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and co-marketing are some ways to make money once your blog develops a following.



How to let go

how to let go

Why is letting go so hard?

Why do we have so much trouble learning how to let go of someone we love ? We like to hold on to things, situations and especially people because it fulfills our need for certainty . Certainty is one of the six human needs that drive every decision we make. Letting go and moving on from a relationship often entails a large amount of uncertainty. Even if your relationship had reached its conclusion or one or both of you were very unhappy, there was still an amount of certainty there that was comforting.

Sometimes we use the past to justify our current decisions , and that’s why we can’t figure out how to let go . Remember when you were rejected by several potential mates in high school or college? Those instances could make you hold on to a partner – even one who is not good for you – because you are afraid you won’t find anyone else. Those memories justify everything for you. When you’re unable to let go, those memories become a part of your “story” and work against you.

Let go of Anger and Bitterness

11. Feel it fully. If you stifle your feelings, they may leak out and affect everyone around you—not just the person who inspired your anger. Before you can let go of any emotion, you have to feel it fully.

12. Give yourself a rant window. Let yourself vent for a day before confronting the person who troubled you. This may diffuse the hostility and give you time to plan a rational confrontation.

13. Remind yourself that anger hurts you more than the person who upset you, and visualize it melting away as an act of kindness to yourself.

14. If possible, express your anger to the person who offended you. Communicating how you feel may help you move on. Keep in mind that you can’t control how the offender responds; you can only control how clearly and kindly you express yourself.

15. Take responsibility. Many times when you’re angry, you focus on what someone else did that was wrong, which essentially gives away your power. When you focus on what you could have done better, you often feel empowered and less bitter.

16. Put yourself in the offender’s shoes. We all make mistakes, and odds are you could have easily slipped up just like your husband, father, or friend did. Compassion dissolves anger.

17. Metaphorically throw it away. For example, jog with a backpack full of tennis balls. After you’ve built up a bit of rush, toss the balls one by one, labeling each as a part of your anger. (You’ll need to retrieve these—litter angers the earth!)

18. Use a stress ball, and express your anger physically and vocally when you use it. Make a scrunched up face or grunt. You may feel silly, but this allows you to actually express what you’re feeling inside.

19. Wear a rubber band on your wrist and gently flick it when you start obsessing on angry thoughts. This trains your mind to associate that type of persistent negativity with something unpleasant.

20. Remind yourself these are your only three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it. These acts create happiness; holding onto bitterness never does.

More Tips for Letting Go​

2. Question your patterns. Do you find that you often struggle to let go? Or, do you struggle to let go of something or someone in particular? What are these patterns and how are they helping or hurting you?

3. Ask your inner child. As we get older, we rely more on our brains and often leave our emotions or intuition out of our decisions. So pause when contemplating letting go and ask your inner child what he or she wants. See if you gain any unknown insights from the answers you receive.

4. Understand that reality is often not what we expect. TV and movies often portray an unrealistic view of what relationships are like or even what living is really like. So many of us grow up thinking and expecting that things will be different than they are. And once we discover reality, we fight it. If this sounds like you, try to let go of the ideas you once had and replace them with your understanding of reality now.



Web design tips

Full-page header design has become one of the most amazing web design trends in 2021. UI/UX designers can create various header versions, but the most common set up includes the key text or CTA buttons to the left of the header with visually pleasant pictures on the right. You may wonder why? It is because users usually concentrate attention on the top-left of a web page.


5 Tips to Simplify Your Web Design

Simplicity rules! It makes a websites look sleek, reduces navigation confusion and it helps to achieve desired goals and results (I.e., more signups, subscribers, and sales). But too often it seems elusive to simplify your website design. No matter how hard you try, you can’t make your work look like Apple’s. So what does a website designer really needs to do? Fret not, for there are 5 starting points to simplify your website design.

A simple website design shouldn’t be a daunting all-or-nothing ordeal – you can simplify your design by taking small steps. Simple tasks like putting the focus only on the essential elements of your website, getting rid of the unnecessary, reducing the number of pages your site has, getting more content above the fold, and limiting the number of colors you use. You can always fine-tune and improve your simple design, but the important thing here is to get started.

Focus Only On Essential Elements


This first step probably seems forehead-slapping obvious: of course I should put the focus on the essential elements in my site, what am I, an idiot? But a surprising number of websites fail to achieve this and the result is a big mess of important and unimportant elements spewed onto a page. I’m as guilty of doing this in the past as anybody. It’s hard to be objective and prioritize what’s important or not, because everything seems essential. If you want your website design to be simpler, identify what needs to be focus, just like with any good visual design or piece of art. And that means putting the focus only on the essential elements.


Collage is another amazing web design trend expected in 2021. It adds more authenticity and uniqueness to a website design, allowing brands to stand out from other companies in the tough digital competition. Collages are becoming even more often used on websites. People love to see them during their web journeys, as this is another place on the web where they can switch attention from usual operations and digital activity to a piece of art and relax a little bit.

Abstract design, geometric shapes, and 3D elements are taking the place in 2021. At least, we anticipate them on the web soon. During the last years, many companies have been actively incorporating AR and VR technologies into their web experiences. It has given birth to a new trend, 3D design, expected to embrace the web in the upcoming year. 3D images, 36-view videos, and animations will appear on websites even more frequently.

Moreover, we will also see the rise of geometric design that is expected to be particularly popular in its 3D implementation. The combination of these two trends will result in something new and amazing. This mind-blowing visual design tendency may significantly enrich the web user experience and empower companies to create even more outstanding web presence.

Other webmaster tips

O1. Don’t steal content.

It’s not acceptable to copy and paste articles from other sites and place it on your own, unless you get permission from the site owner. It’s not legal to do so, either. Just because it’s easy to do doesn’t mean it’s not sleazy or against the law. Copying content is also a good way to get the search engines to make your page or site rank a whole lot lower, too.

O2. Don’t hotlink to other sites’ images or MP3’s.

Any image you link to should be on your own server. That is, your code should look like and not . Embedding images into your pages from other sites is called hotlinking, and is considered a theft of bandwidth from the other site (and possibly a violation of copyright). It also screws up the other site’s visitor stats, because every time someone visits your page with a hotlinked image, that counts a a visit to the other site, although there was no actual visit to the other site. Hotlinking images can also come back to bite you, if the webmaster of the other site changes the image you hotlinked to be something very offensive (like hardcore porn, or a message specifically insulting you).

O3. Don’t ask for "permission" to link to a site.

It’s not neccesary to ask whether you can link to a site. For what possible reason would it be? The whole point of putting a site on the web is so people can see it, so why would a site owner not want more people to see it? Imagine someone writing the following letter:
Dear Mr. Lyman:

I read your book No More Bull! and enjoyed it immensely. I would like to recommend it to several of my friends, so I am writing to ask your permission to do so. I realize that in writing your book you did not in fact want it to have the widest possible audience, and that you want strict control over who has the authority to recommend the book to others, so I will not mention your book to anyone else until you tell me that it’s okay to do so. Just a Yes or No is fine, I’m sure you don’t have anything better to do than to respond to messages like this one.

Thank you,

A reader

Asking permission to link to a site isn’t just ridiculous, it’s bothersome. If the thousands of people who linked to my articles had asked permission first then I’d be drowning in an avalanche of email. Fortunately the overwhelming majority are smart enough to simply link without asking.

Note that simply linking to a site is completely different from copying and pasting an entire article, which you do need to ask permission before doing. It’s necessary to ask before republishing because doing so without permission (1) is illegal, (2) deprives the publisher of advertising revenue, which is how they make the money to be able to publish articles in the first place, (3) removes the ability of the publisher to correct any misinformation that a reader might see, because the pubisher can update only his/her site, not hundreds of sites all over the Internet.

O4. Don’t ask to exchange links with other sites.

Link exchange requests are only a little less annoying than "permission to link" requests — and completely useless. Link to other sites if you think they’ll be of value or interest to your readers — not because the other site links back. If you want links to your site, make your site worthy of being linked to, link to other worthy sites, and then ask those other sites for a link (not a link exchange). Don’t make your link to them contingent on whether they link back or not. If they’re worth linking to, they’re still worth linking to even if they don’t link back. Here’s more on why link exchange requests fail.


Web design tips

"Don’t wait for other people to ask you to try something new or to challenge you," says Ben Howdle, developer at Wapple.net (opens in new tab) . "In the downtime between jobs, when you’ve finished pitching, you should always be creating new portfolio work. The more inventive, the better."

Set garish outlines

File this in the "simple acts of genius" folder – a tip from Christopher Murphy of Web Standardistas (opens in new tab) that makes cross-platform design so much easier. "When working with media queries, set an outline in a garish colour," says Murphy. "For example: . This enables you to instantly see which exact rules are being applied to what you’re currently looking at."

"45-75 characters per line is generally accepted as safe for comfortable reading," says Trent Walton, founder and designer with Paravel (opens in new tab) . "There’s a quick trick to ensure your responsive or fluid design supports this. Place a line of dummy text on your page with an asterisk at character 45 and an asterisk at character 75. Now test the site to make sure it resizes within these parameters."

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1. Visual Design

It might seem obvious that you need design knowledge to be a web designer, but what exactly does that mean? Well, web design is actually a subset of the larger field of visual design, so it makes sense to start there.

At Skillcrush, we teach visual design because it focuses on digital products and sets you up to succeed across design careers, including web design. When you learn visual design, you learn the fundamental design principles you need to be a web designer.

Design principles are what determine the look and feel of a site, and are one of the most important concepts for web designers to know. They can range from proportions, to typography, to grid systems, to color theory. Learning visual design means creating mood boards and type hierarchy and experimenting with web fonts and color palettes.

UX stands for user experience, or how people feel (calm, frustrated, etc.) when they use a website. Above all else, UX design is about approaching your designs from a user-friendly and user-first perspective — how can you produce a website design that helps them get exactly what they need?

To do that, you’ll research your users and create “personas” (profiles of imaginary ideal users). You’ll lay out the pages and content with a site map. You’ll figure out the path users take on your site in user flows. For example, do they always click straight through to social media? Or are they just looking for contact information? You’ll use responsive design to account for different screen sizes and improve functionality for all users, regardless of device.

woman in glasses with hand on face, thinking

Create a Media Kit

Why It’s Important:

How It’s Done:

The best practice is to assemble a media kit that includes materials such as information about your organization and cause, original quotes, case studies, photos, etc. Then, upload it to your website as a downloadable resource.

A strong about us page can help members of the media write the best possible story about your organization. Make it clear and easy for the press by providing a designated media contact for them to reach out to.

Erie neighborhood house has a page full of designated contacts for their programs. By having a publicized designated media contact, they are making media coverage more probable for their nonprofit.


Web design tips

When creating page forms such as request a quote forms or checkout pages, it is important to avoid long page forms. Many people don’t take the time to scroll below the “fold” to see additional content. If your checkout or CTA button is present only at the bottom of a lengthy form, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Many visitors will navigate away from the page in frustration or before they’ve had the chance to fully consider your offer and act.

In this example of better contrast, the lines of text follow the color-contrast ratio recommendations and are legible against their background.

25 Web Design Tips To Honor 25 Years Of The Web

When the internet emerged more than 25 years ago, the first websites were akin to a magical land of unicorns and casinos, resplendent with scrolling marquee text, flashing lights and bright sparkles. It felt like a visit to the Red Light district every time a user connected to the brave new Internet World via modem at the blistering speed of 14k. Companies didn’t realize what a great business asset an effective web design could be. Instead they structured their sites to serve as giant “About Us” pages as a way to invite recognition for their traditional brands.

In the last 25 years the internet has changed substantially, and consumer behavior has changed even more. Websites now dominates the way we communicate, the way we shop, and the way we make decisions both online and also in the face-to-face world. The glorified About Us websites are gone, replaced by mobile and secure business sites that serve as powerful lead generation tools for anyone with a business-to-business or business-to-consumer product or service or information resource to sell.

To commemorate 25 years of the Web, I’ve invited Gabe Shaoolian, founder and CEO of web design and online marketing firm Blue Fountain Media, to provide 25 tips for current best practice in making your website the best it can be as a vehicle for capturing more leads and conducting a better business, as follows:

Remember that you have just five seconds to explain your value proposition to users when they enter to your site. The back button is the most widely used command on the web. If you don’t answer a user’s needs right away, he or she will click “back” and exit your site. Make sure your site features compelling copy that draws readers in and gives them reasons to stay.

The most important aspect of a site is its messaging. The most effective sites feature clear, concise, bit text messaging in no more than a few words. Do not put long paragraphs on your homepage. Your homepage is a gateway into your site. Use short messaging that gets to the point.

Look at any successful ecommerce or service provider site and you will notice they include a CTA, or a “Call To Action.” The most common calls to action are “Request a Quote,” “Buy Now,” and “Work With Us.” The best CTAs clarify what you are offering as opposed to forcing people to figure it out on their own. Calls to action should be in the top masthead area and body of a website (above the “fold” that requires the viewer to scroll). If your page is long enough, having another CTA on the bottom of your page is beneficial as well.

Building trust is critical if you are selling products or services online. Zappos became successful by offering free shipping and a great return policy. By leveraging the positive experiences of their audience through customer testimonials, Zappos was able to build brand loyalty and grow their business. Similarly, other sites highlight their guarantees and feature certifications or a phone number potential customers can use to contact a real person if any issues occur. These features can make the difference between someone hitting the dreaded back button and making a purchase.

Content is still king. You don’t want visitors to your site to see outdated content and think your business isn’t active online, which could affect your bottom line. Your site is your company’s face to the world. Make sure your site shows that your company is up to date on industry trends and is actively engaged by regularly creating new content.

Social media is one of the best ways to build loyalty and establish a brand voice. Make it easy for your audience to share your content by integrating social media into your web design. This simple step provides a great opportunity to create brand advocates who will attract new customers and help your website to drive more sales for your business.

User experience is the key to any good web design. People should be able to navigate throughout your site without confronting dead ends that cause them to navigate away from your site. Your website’s layout should straightforward so that users can easily move from page to page.

In the early days of the internet, a lot of business websites concentrated on themselves. They went to great lengths to show what they did and why they were a great company. While this hasn’t exactly changed, these days the internet’s best sites are much more focused on what a business can do for a user. Concentrating on what you can do for the user instead of what you want the user to know about you will help your site to become a more effective sales tool.

Today’s internet is accessible to users at blistering speeds beyond the wildest dreams of the web of 25 years ago. One of the best ways to take advantage of this new speed is to put multimedia and videos to work for your business. Video allows customers to see what your business is about in a highly relatable way that builds stronger bonds than copy alone.

Designing the user flows

The first thing to consider is your user flow, or the path by which the visitor will navigate through your website. After all, web page design isn’t about creating a collection of individual pages; it’s about creating flows. This path is a series of steps that the visitor takes from the entry point (the first page where they land) toward the specific action you want them to take (typically a conversion action, such as a sign-up, purchase, etc.). The following will help you determine your user flows as you design your website.

Information architecture

Information architecture (IA) is a discipline that allows you to organize information clearly and logically for your visitors. Information architects analyze how users structure information and create a hierarchy that aligns with the user’s expectations. Good IA is a result of solid user research and usability testing.

There are several ways to research user needs. Often, an information architect will take an active part in user interviews, card sorting, and moderated usability testing where they observe how people interact with the existing design and share their opinions on it.

Card sorting is a simple technique that allows UX practitioners to understand how users group and organize content.

IA is also used to define the site’s navigation and menus. When UX practitioners finish working on a menu, they use another technique called “tree testing” to prove that it will work. Tree testing happens before designing the actual interface.

Tree testing is a reliable method of finding out whether users can work with the proposed menu structure.

Global navigation

  • Select a navigation pattern based on the user’s needs. Navigation should accommodate the needs of the majority of your website visitors. For example, it’s better to avoid hamburger-menu navigation if the majority of your users aren’t familiar with the meaning of the icon itself.
  • Prioritize navigation options. A good design team will prioritize navigation options according to common user tasks, considering both priority and frequency of tasks.
  • Make it visible. Minimize the user’s cognitive load by making important navigation options permanently visible. When we hide navigation options we risk that visitors won’t be able to find them.
  • Communicate the current location. Failing to indicate the current visitor’s location is a common problem on many websites. If visitors have to ask, “Where am I?”, that’s a clear indication that your navigation needs some work. For large websites, offer location indicators like breadcrumbs.

Visual and functional design of web links

“Back” button in a browser

The “back” button is perhaps the most used button in the browser, so make sure it works according to user expectations. When a user follows a link on a page and then clicks the “back” button, they expect to return to the same spot on the original page. Avoid situations in which clicking “back” brings the user to the top of the initial page, instead of where they left off, especially on long pages. Losing their spot forces the user to scroll through content they have already seen, which leads to unnecessary interaction cost.


On the Best Buy website, breadcrumbs support the primary navigation.

Example of poor breadcrumb structure; distinguishing between the different levels of this breadcrumb trail may be difficult for users.


Some visitors come to a website looking for a specific item. Since they know what they want, they probably won’t use the navigation options to find it. The “Search” feature will act as a shortcut in this case. Visitors should be able to type text in a search box, submit their search query, and find the page they’re looking for.

According to one study, the top left or top right of your pages is the best place for a search box.

To draw attention to your search bar, use an icon like a magnifying glass.

Designing individual pages

Content strategy

When it comes to web page design, the most important thing is to design around the page’s objectives. Content strategy—which refers to planning, creating, and managing content on your website—will help with this exercise. Each page has its own goal, such as informing visitors about something or encouraging them to convert. Once you understand the goal of the page, only then should you work on the design or write the content.

Example of a step-by-step checkout process.

Page structure

A properly structured page will help visitors find each user interface element. While there are no one-size-fits-all rules, there are a few website design guidelines that will help you create a solid structure:

A 12-column grid is good for web page design. Adobe XD’s layout grids help designers create consistent, organized designs for different screen sizes and manage the proportions between elements.

A 12-column grid is good for web page design. Adobe XD’s layout grids help designers create consistent, organized designs for different screen sizes and manage the proportions between elements. Image credit Adobe XD.

Example of a low-fidelity wireframe created in Adobe XD.

Visual hierarchy

People are more likely to quickly scan a web page than to read everything there. Therefore, it’s a good idea to optimize your web page design for fast scanning. You can help visitors find what they need with a good visual hierarchy, which refers to the arrangement or presentation of elements on a web page in a way that indicates their importance (that is, where their eyes should focus first, second, etc.). Good visual hierarchy can significantly improve page scannability.

Example of an F-shaped pattern on the CNN website.

Example of a Z-scanning pattern on the Basecamp website.

The “Pick a Plan” call-to-action stands out in this example.

Example of a high-fidelity mockup created in Adobe XD.

Scrolling behavior

Subtle animation (such as Tumblr’s loading indicator) tells the user that more content is loading.

Tumblr’s signup page uses scroll hijacking, which isn’t an ideal user experience.

Content loading

While an instant response is best, there are occasions when your website will need more time to deliver content to visitors. A bad Internet connection could cause a slow reaction, or an operation itself could take a bit more time to complete. But no matter the cause of such behavior, your website should appear fast and responsive. Here are some ways to achieve this:

Skeleton screens are an excellent alternative to this. These containers are essentially a temporarily blank version of the page, into which information is gradually loaded. Rather than showing a loading indicator, designers can use a skeleton screen to focus users’ attention on actual progress and create anticipation for what’s to come. Because information is incrementally displayed on the screen, it feels like things are happening immediately.

Facebook uses skeleton screens to fill out the UI as content loads incrementally.


A good website design guideline is to be clear with your button text so that users understand what the interface element does.

When designing buttons, consistency leads to better usability.

Designing a Website Layout for Corporate Services

Corporate sites don’t have to be dull, although this sector often suffers from bland, cookie-cutter site layouts. Business services will benefit from a touch of creativity in their website designs, but designers can keep the tone appropriate by making company branding and clean type the focus of the site design.

The goal of a corporate website should be to build client trust through professional presentation and reassuring information, such as awards and existing clients. It can be an opportunity for a company to introduce employees to the outside world, showcase work, or keep clients updated with the latest news.

Simple Website Layout Design Tips Anyone Can Follow — Website Layout Design Tips ouiwill

The clean and intuitively-scrollable website design for digital agency ouiwill.

The site layout for digital agency ouiwill is an excellent example of clean and effective web design, that retains a corporate-appropriate spirit. The black and white palette, clean sans-serif web fonts, and bright, airy photography add slick style to the endlessly scrollable pages. The pages themselves alternate between vertical and horizontal scrolls, adding a dynamic element to the site.

Designing a Website Layout for Restaurants, Hotels, and Events

Creating a website for tourism, leisure. or travel can be a challenge, since the goal of the website to be immersive, giving online visitors a flavor of the destination. The immersive experience needs to be balanced with functionality, allowing users to easily find opening times, ticket info, and booking details.

Simple Website Layout Design Tips Anyone Can Follow — Website Layout Design Tips Frans Hals Museum

Website for the Frans Hals Museum by Build in Amsterdam.

Designers might want to add more interactive or immersive content to tourism-focused sites, such as virtual tours, games, or maps. Interactive elements, videos, and exhibition-standard photography can all make for stunning site layouts. However, web designers will need to work around potentially long loading times.

The website for the Frans Hals Museum in Amsterdam is an awwward-winning study in pitch-perfect web design. Created by Build in Amsterdam, the site is a tribute to the museum’s dual contemporary and classic collections. Spliced images that clash Old Masters with modern art pieces is a consistent feature of the site. Punchy colors, pop-out transitions, and interactive elements such as drag-and-drop features add to the playfulness and broad appeal of the site.



Business professional

Think of business professional as the top end of office wear. For men, that means a suit, 0perhaps with pinstripes, and a tie. Dress pants and a sport coat or blazer also would work. For women, business professional can mean a suit, but there is more leeway, and a dress and blouse without a blazer is acceptable.

Business formal

Business Professional Attire: What It Is And Examples

Business professional — what does that even mean and how are you going to figure out what to wear? Don’t worry, we’ll cover everything you need to know about business professional, business casual, and other work-wear terms.

Dressing appropriately for a job interview or the job itself is really important. This is your chance to make that first impression and show them how well you fit with the company culture. You put a lot of work into getting the interview or the job and you don’t want to ruin it by not caring about your appearance.

Sure, we can argue back and forth about your appearance not having anything to do with how you do the job. That may be true, but the effort you take to look nice speaks volumes. That’s what employers are going to notice. That and how well you can gauge what’s appropriate in their work environment.

Guide To Business Attire (With Examples)

Business attire is the clothing you wear in professional settings. You might decide how to dress depending on the type of office you work in, for an interview or for a meeting. There are varying levels of business attire ranging from “casual” to “business formal.” Based on the setting, you can decide which kind of business attire is appropriate. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of business attire, examples of clothing types and the situations they’re appropriate for.

1. Casual

Casual business attire is informal clothing worn not only in most business settings but also in many settings outside of work. You might wear casual clothing if you work in an informal office where others wear things like T-shirts, jeans and open-toed shoes. You should avoid wearing casual dress with clients and in interviews, even if the office is casual overall.

Casual Attire

Examples of casual attire

Casual dress includes items like T-shirts, button-down shirts, blouses and sweaters on top. Bottoms might include jeans, khakis, linen pants, cropped pants or shorts. Casual shoes can include sneakers, loafers, low heels or sandals.

2. Smart casual

Smart casual is another form of casual business attire with a stylish twist. You might include more trendy pieces of clothing if dressing in smart casual. This type of business attire is appropriate for more flexible offices including informal settings. You might also choose to wear smart casual in an interview for a more informal office. This way, you fit in with their informal dress code while still maintaining a clean, professional look that communicates that you care about your appearance.

Smart casual

Examples of smart casual attire

Smart casual might include items like blazers, sports jackets, ties, button-down shirts, collared shirts, dresses, sweaters, trousers, khakis, skirts, blouses, heels, flats, dress shoes, clean sneakers, jewelry, belts and scarves.

3. Business casual

Business casual is a common form of dress worn in many offices. While many classic business staples are used in business casual wear, there are casual elements included like khakis. Business casual is appropriate for many interviews, client meetings and office settings. Because it is not very casual and also not very formal, this is usually an appropriate way to dress if you’re unsure about the setting.

Business casual

Business casual for women includes pencil skirts, blouses, button-down shirts, trousers, khakis, blazers and sweaters. They can accessorize with simple jewelry and belts. Shoes can include flats, loafers, mules, boots or heels.

Business casual for men includes trousers, slacks, khakis, button-downs, polos, or sport coats. Jackets and ties are optional but can be used to accessorize. Business casual shoes include loafers, lifestyle sneakers (with leather or canvas), oxfords or boots.

Examples of business casual attire

Examples of business casual clothing include pencil skirts, slacks, khakis, trousers, blouses, collared shirts, button-down shirts, sport coats, blazers and sweaters. Accessorize with jackets, ties, simple jewelry and belts. Shoes can include flats, lifestyle sneakers (with leather or canvas), Oxfords, loafers, mules, boots or heels.

4. Business professional

Business professional is a traditional form of attire used in more conservative settings or companies with strict dress codes. You might wear business professional in industries like accounting, banking, finance, government or law. Business professional clothes should be well-fitted and may be tailored to fit you specifically.

Business professional

Business professional for women typically means tidy dresses, skirts or slacks. Tops should include neat button-down shirts or blouses with a blazer. Business professional shoes include classic heels no higher than three inches, loafers or tidy flats. Women can accessorize with minimal jewelry and belts.

Business professional for men typically refers to a dark-colored (gray, navy) suit and tie. The tie should be simple, avoiding bright colors or busy patterns. Men should wear a button-down shirt (preferably white or light-blue) and belt. Pair with a professional, closed-toed shoe like an oxford or loafer.

Business attire tips

If you work in an office, pay close attention to the way people dress. While the office may be casual, you might notice that people in leadership positions dress slightly more formally. You may choose to dress similarly to the people who hold the position you would like to reach.

If you’re going to an interview, check the company’s “About Us” page and social media profiles for clues about their culture. They might have pictures or videos about their offices where you can see how employees typically dress. If you’re still unsure, ask your recruiter or another contact what they recommend you wear to be successful in the interview.

If you’re going to a business meeting, ask your colleagues who may know or have met with this same person about how their offices operate and how you can appear respectful and professional during your meeting with them.

You might use different styles of business attire for different settings or occasions. Pay attention to the dress code, if applicable. If not, look to other people’s styles of dress or ask around if needed. Dressing appropriately can help you be seen as a professional employee who cares about your success in the role.

How Does Business Casual Attire Differ from Business Professional Attire?

Some offices might treat Friday as “business casual,” but don’t get too excited and slip on your flip-flops. You can certainly ditch the suit or the jacket, and ladies could wear a brighter top, for example, but jeans or a t-shirt would still be a no-no in most companies.

For women, a dress or tailored separates with a blouse and a cardigan are fine. If wearing a knee-length skirt, nylons or tights are not necessary, particularly in the summer, but you can wear them if you prefer. Again, dark colors are best for jackets and separates, matched with professional shoes, and a shirt or blouse should be a light color and neatly tucked in. Accessories, jewelry, and makeup should not be distracting in business casual wear contexts.

In contrast, an office might habitually dress down and allow jeans—a print shop or tech company, for example. Here, jeans that are not ripped and a top that is clean and relatively fresh are acceptable. A pair of khaki pants would probably be even better worn with a solid color polo shirt or even a button-down shirt. Sweaters are fine.

Image 1 Biz Pro

2 Biz Pro

Guidelines for Business Professional Attire

5 Biz Pro

Expert Tip: If your job requires business professional attire, this is one other thing that you must budget for and plan. Consider using a tailor, and have a favorite retailer so that you can shop quickly and regularly once you know your sizing. Update your wardrobe periodically so that you don’t end up looking shabby, and dry clean suits and other items. Most importantly, don’t ruin a good look by ignoring important details like your hygiene, hair, and nails.

Business professional attire is very much still a thing. It will add to your day-to-day planning and budgeting, but the results will be confidence, better productivity, and a sense of belonging to your team.



Writer’s Block: 10 Ways to Defeat a Writer’s Worst Enemy

To move beyond a block, Hughes also suggests trying to see your story from another perspective. “How might a minor character narrate the scene if they were witnessing it? A ‘fly on the wall’ or another inanimate object?” Altering your story’s point of view (even temporarily) is a great way to break out of mental constraints and gain new insight.

6 Manifestations of Writer’s Block

Below are six common types of writer’s block, broken down one by one. For each type, I give advice I’ve collected and experimented with over the years on how to cure writer’s block, specific to that particular manifestation.

1. Writer’s block: You feel motivated but uncreative

Often, feeling boxed in mentally is the result of feeling boxed in physically. When we’re confined to the same familiar spaces, our brains fall into repetition, and we create habits of stasis rather than habits of imagination. You need something to kickstart that creative flow.

Sometimes, the solution is to simply daydream. What happens if you spend an hour staring at the ceiling or out the window—what worlds can you come up with when undisturbed from technology or other people?

Other times, you might need to kick your brain in action by putting yourself in new, unfamiliar spaces. Maybe find a new space to write: a hidden park bench, the back of a library, your best friend’s balcony, anywhere.

2. Writer’s block: You feel creative but have no motivation

This is where creating a writing habit becomes useful. We need to train our brains to write by creating an environment and schedule conducive to writing. If you can make yourself sit in the same space at the same time every day, you will encourage your creative motivation through sheer force of repetition.

Where do you feel most creative? It may be at the desk or in the kitchen; it may also be in the bathtub, on your roof, or squirreled away in the closet. Find where you’re most creative, and write there frequently.

3. Writer’s block: Self-doubt is getting in the way

For some people, overcoming writer’s block means overcoming the voice of self-doubt. Self-doubt is only natural: when we write, we’re creating and interpreting new worlds and people, which is a challenge fit for gods. Who are we to put our humble pens on the page?

Self-doubt is a natural response to the writing process, but it doesn’t have to inhibit your creative flow. Otherwise, you end up justifying your own self-doubt, which prevents you from writing the next Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

This is one of the hardest writer’s blocks to work through, but you’re not alone in feeling it. Many successful authors have their fair share of self-doubt. John Steinbeck, for example, wrote that he was “assailed by [his] own ignorance and inability” while writing The Grapes of Wrath—that great American novel which did win a Pulitzer.

Often, self-doubters will assume their work will be meaningless before it even reaches the page. If you’re experiencing a bout of writer’s block and doubt your ability to create, try to hold back that judgment. Allow yourself to write, even if that writing doesn’t meet your standards: you can always edit later, and the act of creation is the most important thing a writer can commit to. Every word you write brings you a word closer to the Nobel prize!

4. Writer’s block: You’re out of ideas

First, ask yourself this: are you struggling to come up with ideas at all, or are you dismissing every idea you come up with? If it’s the first one, then prompt generators are your best friend. Hit refresh as many times as you want, add or subtract certain requirements, and have fun in the sandbox of language. You won’t be out of ideas for long!

If it’s the second problem, then you might need to take a step back and actually slow your thoughts down. You might be rushing through ideas too quickly, and rather than finding your groove and setting words on the page, your thoughts are spinning like tires in a ditch.

This is your reminder, then: slow down, chew through your thoughts slowly, and imagine yourself inside of your ideas. You might find something unique or surprising, and realize that everything you need as a writer is already inside of you.

5. Writer’s block: You’re too exhausted to write

Let’s face it: this world was not built for writers. Very few of us have the luxury of dedicating our entire lives to literature: we have jobs to work, bills to pay, kids to raise, and thousands of decisions to make. When we find time to sit at the writing desk, we don’t always have the energy to write.

Our personal and professional lives are often what causes writer’s block. If this is the case, but you really want to write, then take a step back and focus on your needs first. Try to block out some time, even just 5 minutes, to journal or dream on the page before going to sleep. Over time, this habit will start to produce the writing you want to create. Overcoming writer’s block usually begins with habits, and habits can overcome even the fatigue of day-to-day life. Be gentle with yourself, and be diligent!

6. Writer’s block: You aren’t sure what causes writer’s block for you

If all writers knew the reason they couldn’t write, then they’d know how to cure writer’s block. Sadly, this isn’t the case. It might take a couple of weeks to diagnose yourself with writer’s block, and it might take a couple more weeks after that to figure out the block. This is something that, sooner or later, most writers grapple with.

The Broad-Spectrum Cure for Writer’s Block: Make Writing a Habit

Ultimately, working through writer’s block is about developing practices that make writing a habit—on good days, bad days, and everything in between. What this looks like is completely up to you and what will really work in your case. Start experimenting!

Overcoming Writer’s Block Starts with Experimentation

Especially for newer writers, the best thing you can do is understand what writing habits are best for you. Experiment with where, when, and how you write to find a place and style of writing that consistently lets you get words onto the page.

Your next story or poem might be best written on a typewriter. It might also be best written while staring at your phone, tucked in bed at 1 in the morning. That’s not to promote unhealthy sleeping habits, only to suggest that “real writing” can happen in any space.

Maybe you’re too tired to write when you finish work at night. Try writing in the morning! Maybe your laptop keeps dragging you onto Twitter. Buy a notebook! Maybe writing feels boring and isolating. Try it in a coffee shop!

Clear away any preconceived notions of what “writing” looks like, and find what will make your writing process work for you. If you try to force yourself to write in one specific way, you might be stifling your creativity and preventing ideas from coming naturally.

Consistent Creative Motivation Comes from Creative Habits

Overcoming writer’s block means setting the words down, no matter how great, terrible, logical, or nonsensical they are. The most successful writers have learned how to get rid of writer’s block by experimenting with when, where, and how they write, found the processes that best suit their writing needs, and developed a rock-solid writing habit.

Stephen King writes 10 pages each day, even on weekends and holidays. Haruki Murakami runs a 5K to clear his mind. Allegedly, Agatha Christie liked to sit in the bathtub, eating apples and looking at crime scene photographs, especially when she was out of ideas. The lengths writers go to to write!

Build a solid routine

Author and dancer Twyla Tharp once wrote, “Creativity is a habit.” This might seem counterintuitive to some — isn’t creativity something that naturally ebbs and flows, not something you can schedule? But the truth is, if you only write when you “feel creative”, you’re bound to get stuck in a rut. One of the best ways to push through is by writing on a regular schedule.

You may already have a routine of sorts, but if you’re experiencing writer’s block, it’s time to switch things up. Figure out the days and times that really work best for you — if you feel most productive in the mornings, it could be worth waking up half an hour earlier to squeeze in some writing. Or if you prefer low-pressure writing sessions, you could try Sunday afternoons when you have no other commitments.



How to Be Happy: 25 Habits to Add to Your Routine

We’re certainly happier when we learn how to cope with obstacles. When you’re faced with a problem, think about what got you through something similar in the past. Would it work here? What else can you try?

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How to Be Happy with Your Life

This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 83% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

Life moves quickly, and sometimes, when negative things pile up, it can be easy to lose sight of the things that make you and your life a success. There are several ways that you can enhance your happiness with your life. You can alter your focus, improve your attitude, and enhance your social life to move towards a greater sense of satisfaction with your life.

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  • The best way to think about self-criticism is as an opportunity to improve, rather than a chance to point out all the things you don’t like about yourself. Find specific, changeable things about yourself that you can work on rather than blaming everything on universal or unchangeable traits. Rather than saying things like "I’m just not that smart," tell yourself "I stayed up too late watching TV rather than studying. I can do better next time." This can help motivate yourself to improve rather than focus on failure. [5] X Trustworthy Source Greater Good Magazine Journal published by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, which uses scientific research to promote happier living Go to source

1. Smile

That doesn’t mean you have to go around with a fake smile plastered on your face all the time. But the next time you find yourself feeling low, crack a smile and see what happens. Or try starting each morning by smiling at yourself in the mirror.

Exercise isn’t just for your body. Regular exercise can help to reduce stress, feelings of anxiety, and symptoms of depression while boosting self-esteem and happiness.

Even a small amount of physical activity can make a difference. You don’t have to train for a triathlon or scale a cliff — unless that’s what makes you happy, of course.

Remind yourself of any fun activities you once enjoyed, but that have fallen by the wayside. Or activities you always wanted to try, such as golf, bowling, or dancing.

Be grateful

Simply being grateful can give your mood a big boost, among other benefits. For example, a recent two-part study found that practicing gratitude can have a significant impact on feelings of hope and happiness.

Start each day by acknowledging one thing you’re grateful for. You can do this while you’re brushing your teeth or just waiting for that snoozed alarm to go off.

As you go about your day, try to keep an eye out for pleasant things in your life. They can be big things, such as knowing that someone loves you or getting a well-deserved promotion.

But they can also be little things, such as a co-worker who offered you a cup of coffee or the neighbor who waved to you. Maybe even just the warmth of the sun on your skin.

How to be happy? Have the right perspective

8 – Don’t compare yourself to others.
Multiple studies show that social media causes unhappiness. Why? Because you’re comparing your real life to everyone else’s highlight reel.

9 – Help other people
I’ve always believed that helping others makes us happier, and now I’ve got scientific proof (By the way, even helping people at work makes you happier, according to this University of Wisconsin Madison study). Instead of focusing on your own problems, you’re helping someone else and empowering yourself in the process.

10 – Volunteer
Along the lines of helping others, volunteering allows you to put your problems in perspective. When you’re volunteering in a soup kitchen or hospital your work problems or piles of dirty laundry seem a lot smaller. Sometimes even small doses of volunteering can have a positive impact for weeks or months. (Click here for a study on the benefits of volunteering on happiness)

Scientific studies demonstrate that being in the moment – even for short periods of time — is one of the best ways to be happy. I find it difficult. I’ll be working and thinking about other things or doing something else while work thoughts pop into my head. But, I’m almost always in the moment when I’m volunteering. My mind is clear, and I’m relaxed.

11 – Spend money on others
A study by Harvard Business School and University of British Columbia professors found that once you’ve pulled yourself out of poverty, spending money on other people gives you more joy than spending money on yourself. They found that even minimal amounts make a difference. Try buying small gifts for friends and the people you love. (This fall under the category of how to be happy and how to make other people happy.)

12 – Give people the benefit of the doubt
This is another suggestion that’s easier said than done, but still worth trying…Instead of getting frustrated with someone, try having compassion.

Build meaningful connections.

Did you know we enjoy just about everything more when we do it with others? This is why one of the best things you can do for your happiness is to build meaningful relationships and social connections. To strengthen these relationships, practice kindness and gratitude towards the people you care about.

The "hedonic treadmill" refers to the tendency for us to return to our original happiness level over time. To boost your baseline-level happiness, you can try changing your physiology through nutrition and exercise. To maintain your happiness, you have to get out of your comfort zone and keep adding variety to your happiness plan.