Guerrilla Marketing At A Large University Career Fair

We recently found ourselves at a large University Career Fair, where thousands of students swarmed employer booths seeking future internships and employment. Our table looked snazzy with a sign, job flyers, a Kindle Fire for collecting email addresses, and of course a bowl of candy.

Yet 20 minutes into the career fair, we hadn’t been approached by any of the students.  That’s when my colleague Sarah had one of those ah-hah, light-bulb moments.

Sarah jumped behind our table and shuffled through the papers and supplies back there. When she reappeared, she was holding what used to be a plain manila work folder. Now, the folder said in large sharpie letters:

Can You Write? Design?

At first I was skeptical about this improvised sign, but within minutes we had our first few interactions with students from all kinds of backgrounds!  Whether studying law, English, philosophy, computer science, or theater, all of these students had a passion for writing or design. The sign was working wonders; we were collecting tons of emails and handing out job flyers.

Soon, a sleek representative from a Fortune 500 company across the aisle came over to congratulate us on our genius sign. “We spent more than $2,000 on our banners,” he laughed, as he nodded toward his company’s decked-out table.

When it was my turn to hold the homemade sign I felt funny, like one of those sign-spinners you see dancing by the side of a busy road. But as nervous students walked by us, wearing their ill-fitting “interview” suits, many of them smiled, laughed, or mouthed the word, “no,” as they passed our table.

We got to speak with so many bright students that day and the sign was a great icebreaker. It just goes to show you that sometimes simple guerrilla marketing strategies work best. When Reddit was a foundling startup with a budget of $500 dollars, it experienced the same kind of  guerrilla marketing momentum from a simple sticker campaign. (Now Reddit has more than 2 billion monthly page views.)

That’s our little guerrilla marketing story. Thanks for reading! If you have a similar marketing story where a homegrown guerrilla tactic was a big win, share your thoughts in the comments below.

We are currently  hiring content writers and graphic designers nationwide. Please visit our jobs page for more information and links to apply.

An Inside Look at Our Blog Editing Process

We think this is a great hairstyle for an editor.

Each month, our in-house team of writers and editors creates thousands of  business blogs for  SMBs nationwide. In addition to business blogs, we also create guest posts, website copy, interactive social media content, and custom projects.

While our production volume is very high and our turnaround times fast, our clients tell us that our work is better researched, of a higher quality, and more grammatically sound than the work of other freelance writers and services they have contracted with in the past.

So how do we consistently generate the kind of high-quality content that SEO and internet marketing firms are looking for? Aside from sentence-level changes, grammar, and spelling, the experienced editors at Student Experts look for the following when editing blog content:

1. Readability

When reviewing a business blog, our editors might ask, “Is it clear, cohesive, and fun to read?” Successful blogs will start off with an engaging statistic, or a journalistic lede that hooks readers right away. Here’s a quick comparison of a boring and a fun introduction for an optician’s blog about eye diseases:

    • Boring: “Many people are nearsighted and need to wear glasses.”
    • Engaging: “According to the American Optometric Association, more than a quarter of the United States population suffers from myopia, or nearsightedness.”

Not only is the second example more interesting, but it adds the clout of a respected industry organization and an authoritative outbound link to the blog. From the introduction, editors will ensure that the blog flows into a well-organized body, broken up into logical bullets, lists, or subheadings for easy consumption. As an example, you’ll notice that this blog offers a very readable layout. It starts with a direct introduction, then is followed by a numbered list of parallel points and a brief conclusion.

2. Links and Anchor Text

Building up SEO authority by linking out from your blog posts to authoritative third-party sites is one of the main benefits of business blogging. That’s why our editors check outbound blog links for domain authority, quality, and relevance. Ultimately, we strive to link to content that is appropriate to the client and that readers will find useful. Editors also pay special attention to the link anchor text used throughout blog posts. We vary anchor text between posts, using business- and location-based keywords whenever possible. For example, in a blog post for an HVAC company about repairing home heating systems in time for winter, we would use anchor text such as “Fall heating tune-up” or “heating system maintenance.” The HVAC business may also focus on keywords for its air conditioning and duct cleaning services, but since those services are not relevant to this particular blog post, we would not use those phrases in the link anchor text.

3. Client Parameters

We use a streamlined content management system to keep client’s keyword strategies and special requests up-to-date and organized.  An editor will check all blog content against a client’s parameters to be sure the writing is furthering that client’s marketing goals.  Maybe a business always wants to use a trackable toll-free number in the call-to-action? Or, perhaps a client has discontinued a product and no longer wants to mention it in their content. Our CMS, combined with our editorial quality assurance, keeps clients happy and greatly reduces the need for revisions.

This is just a quick snap-shot of our writing and editing process.  Get in touch with us today to learn more about how Student Experts delivers high-quality, white-labeled content to internet marketing and SEO firms.

 

Photo credit: Evil Erin

Resources for Staying Healthy with A Desk-Bound Job

desk stretches

This blog is adapted from a presentation given by Christian C., a Student Experts Project Manager, at one of our Friday lunch meetings. Thanks Christian for encouraging us all to stay healthy! 

While sitting in itself may not be especially hazardous to your health, it’s all the things that you aren’t doing while you are sitting that are working against you.  You aren’t burning calories, your metabolism slows down, your leg muscles aren’t being used, and your spine is compressing.

When you couple this with living in a society that already encourages sedentary living spent watching television, playing video games, driving in a car, and  browsing the Internet, we’re all effectively playing a prolonged version of Russian Roulette as we neglect our bodies with countless hours off our feet.

Fortunately, there are various actions we can all take to diminish the negative effects of sitting in a chair for eight or more hours a day, such as taking breaks and doing basic stretches, not to mention exercising when you aren’t on the job.  Bring your mind and body into balance while on the job by checking out this resource guide and trying some of the techniques suggested.

Got any healthy tips for workplace ergonomics, stretching, and finding times to exercise? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Photo Credit: Meagan Fisher

Avoid These 5 Resume and Job Application Mistakes

resume tipsBefore the recruiter opens your resume, she queues up classical music in the background, sits down in a cozy armchair, puts her feet up on an ottoman, and reaches for her cup of soothing herbal tea.

Wouldn’t that be nice? In reality, the recruiter is most likely sitting at a brightly lit desk with hundreds of resumes in her database and not enough time to even read most of her emails.

Due to the competitive and fast-paced nature of recruiting, there are a few missteps that can get even the most impressive candidate’s resume tossed in the trash. To increase the chances that your resume is actually read by recruiters and employers, avoid these five common mistakes :

1.     Typos
If anything is misspelled or grammatically incorrect in your cover letter or resume, it will immediately take away any credibility you have as a job candidate.  Check also for the correct spelling of the company you are applying to, because many businesses today use unconventional spellings, such as LinkedIn.

2.     Unprofessional Email Address
It is fine if your friends know you as softballbaby89@gmail.com, but do you really want to use that same email address when applying to jobs? Sign up for a more professional email account that uses your name and simple numbers or professional keywords if necessary. You can then use the professional account to send and receive job correspondence without worrying that a recruiter might accidentally see your strange Gmail chat status.

3.     Inability to Follow Directions
Pay attention to the application instructions. If a company asks for a Word document and you usually send PDFs, then take the time to convert and send a Word file instead. Also pay attention to any requests for specific information such as salary requirements, work samples, or references. If you don’t follow the recruiter’s exact instructions, then the recruiter will likely skip over your resume and move on to the hundreds of other candidates who did follow directions.

4.     Boring Cover Letter or No Cover Letter
A cover letter lets employers know that you are that you are a genuinely interested applicant  and not just hitting “send” a million times on Career Builder. Take advantage of the cover letter to market your skills, personality and intelligence.  Unless the recruiter requests “no cover letters,” you should always include one.

5.     Missing Keywords
If you see keywords or skills in the job description, then take the time to thoughtfully include those words in your resume and cover letter. The first thing that many recruiters will do is search your cover letter and resume text for the keywords and skills they need.  If you submit a PDF resume, then be sure that it is saved in a searchable format.

Have you ever sent a resume out only to realize later that you made a terrible mistake on it? Feel free to vent or share your resume “learning experience” with the rest of us in the comments! Students, recent graduates and not-so-recent graduates looking for writing opportunities in Tucson can check out our current job openings.

 

Photo Credit: Dita Margarita

5 Blogging Tips Straight From The Student Experts’ Style Guide

blog writing tipsWhen new writers and editors begin work at Student Experts, reading and absorbing the Style Guide is the first item on their training agenda. This 56 page document is an evolving tome that covers every step of our writing and editing process.

The Style Guide includes resources on SEO, linking to authoritative sources, conducting online research, and editing for grammar and syntax.

If you’re looking for a few blogging best practices, then review five of our Style Guide writing tips below:

1. Craft A Snappy Intro
Like a good lede in a news story, open each blog with a clear and informative introduction. Other than the blog headline, the first two sentences are your best chance to grab the reader’s attention and keep them hooked. Instead of starting a dental blog with “Many people have gum disease,” incorporate a statistic for a more active and engaging first sentence, such as, “More than 80 percent of American adults have a form of gum disease.”

2. Make It Scannable
When searching for information online, most people have a limited attention span. Use lists, bullet points, sub-headlines, and short paragraphs to make your blog scannable and reader-friendly. A series of brief, topical paragraphs or bullet points is more inviting to a reader than a block of uninterrupted text.

3. Create A Clear Structure
To maintain a coherent structure after the blog introduction, tell readers precisely what you’re about to tell them. For example, “Below we’ll review the main benefits of air duct cleaning.” Include an introductory sentence before lists or bullet points, describing the list and why it’s important to readers. Throughout list headings or subheadings, use parallel verb tenses and similar parts of speech. The numbered list in this blog post is an example of parallel construction.

4.  Use Active, Positive Language
Front-load your sentences and stick with active (not passive) constructions. Put the most important information at the beginning of a sentence so that even scanning readers will see and absorb the main points. Keep your subjects and verbs close together and stick with basic verb forms such as infinitives, imperatives, the simple present, simple past, and future tense.  Maintain a positive tone by avoiding words such as don’t, can’t, shouldn’t and not.

5. Form Simple Sentences and Paragraphs
Think Ernest Hemingway and not Marcel Proust. Keep sentences short and focused on one idea. Each new paragraph should focus on a single topic, with the most important point mentioned early in the first sentence of the paragraph. If a reader scans the blog introduction, first sentence of each paragraph, and your conclusion, they should get the point.

Student Experts creates custom content that internet marketing and SEO firms can white-label and deliver to their SMB clients. Stay tuned to our blog for more writing, editing, and content marketing tips. Learn more about our services or set up a free content trial to get a taste of our truly high-quality content!

Photo credit: ItDan

What We Look For in Our Writers

content writingWe are always looking for new writers and editors to join our growing ranks. Working for Student Experts entails crafting blog content, guest posts, web copy, and PPC ad headlines for small and medium-sized business clients.

Here are three traits that we look for in potential content writers during the recruiting process:

1. A Writing Background

The best content writers tend to have backgrounds in English literature, creative writing, linguistics, journalism, philosophy, and other writing-intensive areas of study. When an applicant has excelled throughout years of reading difficult texts and writing grueling papers, he or she will likely be a good fit for a job that involves researching, writing, and thinking critically all day long. As much as we love English and journalism majors, we do hire outside of these areas of study—especially when we see a pre-law or pre-med candidate who has a real way with words.

2. A Marketing Mindset

A content writer’s main function is to create engaging copy that ultimately “sells” or “markets” a business’ products and services. Even though a blog or guest post is not overt advertising copy, it should leave the reader with a positive feeling about the company. When we read writers’ applications, we gravitate toward the candidates who do a wonderful job of marketing themselves. If you can’t convince us of why we should hire you, then how are you going to write blogs that convince customers to work with one of our small business clients?

3. A Confident Voice

A confident writer uses active sentences and incorporates facts and information with gusto! When reading an applicant’s writing sample, we look for red flags such as vague sentences, overuse of a particular structure (like the em dash), or redundancy. Overall, we’re looking for applicants who can write with the utmost clarity and efficiency.

If you think you might be a good fit for one of our open positions, then apply today. We’re always looking for talented wordsmiths to join the Student Experts team.

Photo credit: Photosteve101

Writing For Your Audience: A Simple Exercise

Your readership can flourish or flounder based on how well you “speak” to your audience with online content.  Here’s an exercise to discover how people write within your industry and learn what gets your target audience engaged.Writing For Your Audience

1) Visit three thought leaders’ websites in your niche.  The idea is to find out how thought-leaders in your industry are already connecting with the audience. Make sure the websites you check have consistent blog and social media content with signs of engagement, such as comments, retweets and shares.

2) Spend 10 minutes looking at each author. Review each author’s recent blog posts, tweets, and other social media posts.  Take note of their writing style. Is it informal and conversational or more formal and businesslike? How lengthy are their blog posts?  You should see a pattern developing about the kind of writing that works in your industry.

3) Evaluate your natural writing style. Everyone has a natural tone or voice when they write. Gauge whether your style is  similar to what you’re seeing online in your industry.  If not,  you may want to consider adapting to the tone and style of the conversation.

If you do try this exercise, please share what you learned in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: statelibraryofnsw