Build a Lexicon to Sound Like an Expert on Anything

Posted By on May 6, 2014

Perch, buffalo, gaspargoo, pike, trout, herring... Lexicons are lists of words on a topic or from an industry. You're writing about either get more real if you start compiling a lexicon of your own.  Copyright @Cynthia Hartwig 2014

Perch, buffalo, gaspargoo, pike, trout, herring… This list of words is a lexicon about a specific industry. Building a lexicon helps make your writing abut an industry more real. Copyright 2014 Cynthia Hartwig

Business writing is often bland. It’s rarely grounded in sensory or precise language. Think white bread and you pretty much have the gummy nature of corp-speak. So how does a business writer tackle a new technology or industry she knows nothing about? Don’t fake it. Create a lexicon, which is just a fancy term for a word list. (more…)

How Long Should a Blog Post Be? The Five Best Answers

Posted By on April 29, 2014

no one asked how long medieval manuscripts shown here should be

Is this too long for a blog post? The medievalists would think we were speaking Greek.

One of the longest running discussions in the Content Strategy LinkedIn Group I’m a member of is about how long should a blog post be. One of Two Pens’ most popular posts offers one answer. But there are about as many opinions on the subject as there are bloggers. I decided to do some unscientific research–I read the top-ranked posts about it–and drew my own conclusions. (more…)

How to Make Customer Testimonials (and Reviews) Work Harder

Posted By on April 22, 2014

Cynthia Hartwig's selfie proves she's a real Rivet and Sway customer

My #selfie proves I’m a real customer in my sassy new Rivet and Sway sunglasses.

Most customer testimonials live in the land of awful rather than artful. Yet they’re amazing sales tools if they’re done right. Studies have shown that testimonials and reviews above the fold make everything from landing pages to your LinkedIn profile more effective. (more…)

How Harriet the Spy Helps You Show Up in LinkedIn Search Engine Results

Posted By on April 16, 2014

Scribbling your story in notebooks could you get noticed on LinkedIn. Drawing by Robin Tatlow-Lord Copyright @2014 (

Scribbling your story in notebooks could you get noticed on LinkedIn. Drawing by Robin Tatlow-Lord Copyright @2014 (

Google = Search. Right? Yes, if you need to find a black box in the Internet information sea. But LinkedIn is awash in data, too, and has a search engine to help us navigate it, and just as importantly, introduce ourselves to others. Unlike Google, we create much of the LinkedIn data through our profiles, connections, and LinkedIn activities. Its search engine, according to LinkedIn, delivers results based on “who you are, who you know, and what your network is doing.” If you’re looking for a job, or want to find like-minded colleagues, understanding how it works gives you a leg up.

Why Blog Graphics Should Be Proprietary

Posted By on April 8, 2014

proprietary graphics example

The minimimalist imagery and design at Baubauhaus reinforces what the blog stands for. The proprietary graphic style builds brand one image at a time.

Everybody knows that visuals power social media shares. So why is it that so many bloggers depend on words to do the heavy lifting when establishing an interesting and consistent graphic look can do it better?

Proprietary Imagery = An “Ownable” Look That Builds Your Brand


Worried About Following More People Than Follow You? Try Twitter Lists.

Posted By on April 1, 2014

Robert Scoble is one of the most influential people in the tech world.

Robert Scoble is one of the most influential people in the tech world.

The Scobleizer! Sounds like a blender, right? If you’re a tech startup, a thumbs up or down from Robert Scoble will smooth your way or pulverize you. To know what’s up in high tech, you must follow him.

But right now I have more followers than people who follow me. On Twitter the reverse is everyone’s goal. I know that if I follow the Scobleizer, he’ll only add to my disproportionate numbers because he won’t follow me in return or RT my tweets. Yet I need to keep up with his Twitter feed to find out which venture capitalist funded the next Zuckerberg (who does NOT by the way have a public Twitter account).

What’s the solution? Add him to a Twitter List. (more…)

Macklemore’s “Independence” Is a Business Brand, a Message and a Life Style

Posted By on March 25, 2014

Macklemore (Ben Haggerty) portrait

Giving credit where credit is due: I created this image of rapper Ben Haggerty, AKA Macklemore, with the help of the Dubble app combined with an image taken from the cover shot of Macklemore on Seattle Magazine. Copyright 2014 Cynthia Hartwig

Most people admire Seattleite Ben Haggerty (AKA Macklemore) for his rap music. I’m a fan of his business brand.

What’s unusual about Macklemore is how message, behavior, and business strategy all reinforce his business brand as an independent. This is the trifecta that reinforces brand clarity. (more…)

LinkedIn Groups: All the Benefits of an Industry Conference Without the Hangover

Posted By on March 19, 2014

LinkedIn Groups are a conference that never ends.

LinkedIn Groups are a conference that never ends.

The founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman must have been a conference junkie. If you think about it, LinkedIn offers the same thing as real-world industry conferences–you make contacts, share knowledge, network for jobs, and are among the first to hear news. The only thing missing is unwinding in the hotel bar after a day spent breathing circulated air in dim conference rooms. Or is it?

You actually can find virtual conference buddies if you participate in LinkedIn Groups, and those connections will help you build your reputation in your industry both in the real world and on social media. Identifying the most relevant groups is the first step in getting started; the second is pretty much learning to hang out.

Live Tweets? Oh So Sweet!

Posted By on March 11, 2014

Last week, thirteen thousand writers descended on Seattle for the Holy Grail of national writing conferences: the Association of Writing Programs (AWP). Emily Warn, a noted poet, and I (a mostly unnoted fiction writer) attended. Our live tweets went all three days and boy howdy, the results were a revelation!

portrait of Emily Warn at podium

Business partner, @emilywarn, spoke on the “Gaming Social Media” panel with three other social media smarties.


Social Media? A No Brainer. How VIDA Goes Beyond It to Help Women Get Published and Reviewed

Posted By on March 5, 2014

VIDA increased the numbers of women published and represented in American magazines in a very short time by using but looking beyond social media grassroots organizing.

VIDA increased the numbers of women published and represented in American magazines in a very short time by looking beyond social media organizing.

Imagine if Costco went Vegan with half its free food samples. Something like that happened to the sampling of books in the New York Times Book Review (NYTBR) and many other prominent American literary magazines. In 2010, the NYTBR overall featured or published roughly 67% men to 33% women. In 2013, the numbers evened to roughly fifty-fifty. Wow!

VIDA, a grassroots organization devoted to women in the literary arts, is behind this dramatic shift. How did VIDA change such major cultural institutions in such a short time?