Tag: communications (page 1 of 2)

Essential Business Skills for Startups

Whether you’re thinking about starting up a new business or developing your side hustle into something more long-term, there are some key skills you’ll need to develop.

  1. Strategic Planning: Every successful startup begins with a solid strategy. Strategic thinking involves analysing market trends, identifying opportunities, and developing a roadmap for growth. By honing your strategic planning skills, you can set clear objectives, anticipate challenges, and pivot when necessary to stay ahead in a competitive landscape.
  2. Financial Management and Budgeting: Financial literacy is crucial for startup founders. Understanding financial statements, managing cash flow, and budgeting effectively are essential skills for sustainable growth. By mastering financial management, you can make informed decisions, and ensure the financial health of your startup.
  3. Marketing: Reaching your target audience is vital for a successful startup. Marketing fundamentals include SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) digital marketing strategies, content creation, and branding techniques. By crafting compelling marketing campaigns and cultivating a strong brand identity, you can differentiate your startup and attract loyal customers.
  4. Leadership and Team Building:  As a startup founder, you may find that you’re the only team member for some time! But once your business starts to evolve, you’ll need to employ strong leadership skills to help you shape the culture and direction of your business. Effective leadership involves inspiring your team, fostering collaboration, and empowering others to succeed. By cultivating strong leadership qualities, you can build a cohesive team that shares your vision and drives collective growth.
  5. Networking: Building a robust network of contacts is invaluable in the startup ecosystem. Networking allows you to gain insights, forge partnerships, and access resources that can propel your startup forward. Invest time in building meaningful relationships with mentors, investors, and fellow entrepreneurs to expand your reach and unlock new opportunities.
  6. Adaptability and Resilience: Startups operate in a dynamic and unpredictable environment. The ability to adapt to change and navigate through challenges is essential for survival. Cultivate resilience by embracing failure as a learning opportunity, staying agile in your approach, and maintaining a positive mindset during setbacks. A good sense of humour doesn’t hurt either!

Mastering essential business skills is essential for startup founders and side hustlers looking to turn their vision into reality. By honing strategic thinking, financial management, marketing, leadership, networking, and resilience, you can position your startup for long-term success in a competitive marketplace. Embrace the journey of entrepreneurship with a commitment to continuous learning and growth, and you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Our next term starts at the end of April. For our full range of business and creative industry short courses, visit our dedicated page HERE. Taught by experts in their field, a short course is an excellent way to begin to develop your essential business skills.

City Writes Spring 2024 Competition Winners Announced

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

We are delighted to announce the winners of this term’s City Writes competition. City Writes is the showcase event for all the brilliant writing coming from City’s creative writing short courses and we have a fantastic line up for you this term on Wednesday 27th March at 7pm.

Reading at the event alongside published Novel Studio alumni Laurence Kershook and Katharine Light, our competition winners are: Jill Craig, Katie Hunt, Seyi Falodun-Liburd, Tess Pendle and David Strickland. Read on to find out more about our winners.

Current Novel Studio student, Jill Craig is originally from Northern Ireland, but currently lives and works as a secondary teacher in the North-West. She has lived in Greece and France and thinks often of going abroad again. An avid reader, she has published several short stories, with Freckle,  Egg & Frog and Literally Stories, and is working on the first draft of a novel.

Narrative Non-Fiction student Katie Hunt has been a journalist for more than two decades, working for several international news organisations including Reuters and BBC News. She lived in Asia for more than ten years, with stints in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand. For the past four years, she has covered science and health for CNN in London. She hopes to write a non-fiction, popular science book about human origins focused on the latest discoveries in Asia.

Seyi Falodun-Liburd is a Nigerian campaigner and organiser from London. She is currently co-director of Level Up, a feminist campaigning community working towards a world where people of all genders are loved and liberated from bodily and systemic violence. She is also a member of Project Tallawah, a community resource for Black and Global Majority women and gender-expansive people in the UK. Seyi is a fledgling writer and Narrative Non-Fiction student who has written about gender-based violence for iNews, gal-dem and Refinery29.

Tess Pendle is a Narrative Non-Fiction student. After working for many years as a broker at Lloyd’s of London, Tess decided to contribute to a social project. She moved to Burkina Faso, where she worked for three years with a local women’s organisation to develop a microfinance programme supporting female entrepreneurs. On her return to the UK, she set up and managed both a national not-for-profit credit business and a £100 million government fund to invest in social enterprises. Tess is currently self employed and lives in Chelmsford with her partner.

An alumnus of the old Towards Publication course, now called Writers’ Workshop, D.P. Strickland is a neurodivergent writer with an MA in Creative Writing from UEA, whose work has previously appeared in anthologies and journals. He is particularly interested in underrepresented perspectives in fiction and recently completed a novel about a fundamental religion based on his own childhood experience. He lives in London and can be found on Instagram.

Now you know more about our winners, don’t forget to sign up for the event on Wednesday 27th March at 7.30pm on Zoom. You’ll be treated to stories of sticky summer heat, discoveries of ancient jaw bones, the disappointment of a young boy never quite right for the popular crowd and an exploration of the politics of our daily choices. All this alongside readings from our published authors, Laurence Kershook and Katherine Light. It’s going to be brilliant.

Register for tickets here and see you there.

And if anyone wants to come along and find out more about our writing courses, we are running a free taster session and open evening the night before City Writes. See here for more information about how to register.

Study Skills – How to Study Effectively as an Adult Learner

With Lifelong Learning still firmly on the government’s agenda, Short Courses and Continuing Professional Development has become increasingly valued. But what happens if it’s been a while since you studied as an adult? What if the last time you were being taught you were still at school? What if you’ve never been taught how to study effectively?

Because it’s not just what you study, it’s how you manage your approach to study that maximises the educational impact. That’s where Study Skills come in. Read on for our top seven tips.

  1. Time Management

You can’t do everything all at once. Planning is essential. Make a timetable or use a digital calendar to block out specific parts of the day for studying each day or week.

  1. Set Goals

Work smarter not harder. Make sure you have clear, achievable goals for each study session and for your overall learning objectives. If you have exams coming up, or a dissertation, or an essay due, break the goal down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Regularly review and adjust these goals as needed.

  1. Note-Taking:

Effective note-taking is essential when listening to lectures or studying texts. Use short hand and abbreviations, summarise key points and organise your information logically. Highlighting key words can help to make your notes more useful when you revise.

  1. Critical Thinking:

The ability to analyse and evaluate information critically is a crucial party of studying well. Always ask questions, challenge assumptions, and seek evidence to support claims. Try applying critical thinking skills to real-world situations and academic tasks.

  1. Strategies for Effective Reading

When faced with multiple text books to read, the task can seem overwhelming. But if you can break down your reading assignments intop smaller sections and set specific goals, things become more manageable. Skimming texts initially to get an overview before reading in detail is also a very useful skill. When reading in more detail, highlight important passages, make notes, and summarise the main ideas in your note book.

  1. Utilise Resources:

Take advantage of all available resources in your place of study, such as textbooks, online courses, academic journals, and library resources. If you need support or want clarity on a particular subject, ask your tutors or seek advice from relevant online communities. Your university or college may have additional learning tools and technologies available so always find out what’s on offer.

  1. Keep things in Perspective

Studying can become very time-consuming. Make sure you also get enough sleep, eat well and exercise. Meditation or mindfulness techniques can also be very beneficial. Take reguar breaks and allow yourself time to recharge to prevent burnout and maintain your overall well-being

By developing these study skills you will enhance your effectiveness as an adult learner and make the most of your continuing educational journey.

 

 

For anyone interested in our short courses, we are running a free Open Evening and Taster Sessions on March 26 from 6-7.30pm. Register HERE.

 

 

Top Ten Tips for Branding

Anna Tsekouras and Pete Austin, the brains behind Anon Agency

Even though we’re surrounded by brands 24/7, branding is sometimes a difficult concept to understand. The reality is that good branding can be the difference between a successful company and an unsuccessful one. And building up ‘brand equity’ in an audience (the measurable ‘value’ of a brand) is something industries spend trillions of dollars on—because if you have a consistent, authentic brand which your audience trusts, there’s no end to where you can go.

Here are some quick branding tips which are just as relevant whether you’re running an in-house campaign, launching your own business or running a global brand…

 

  1. Think about your audience

Audience, audience, audience. It doesn’t matter whether you’re one store with an audience of people within 1.5km of your outlet, or a global brand with an audience of millions, you have to think about who your audience is. Consider why they would want to interact with your brand, and what you want them to do and feel when they see your brand. Who are they? What do they like to do in their spare time? What media do they consume? Audience insights can feel overwhelming, but there are ways to do it in a scaled-back way which means you can create ‘personas’ of the audience you’re looking to reach. You can then plug these into your marketing on platforms like Meta.

 

  1. Know yourself — be authentic

Authenticity is absolutely key for every brand. If you’re inauthentic, audiences will see through you very quickly. There are so many examples of when brands have fallen foul of deviating from their authentic voice or purpose. Audiences don’t want to feel like they’re being taken for a ride. The most successful brands find an ‘authentic voice’ and ‘authentic vision’ and stick to it.

 

  1. Create a strong visual identity

The Nike tick. The McDonald’s golden arches. The Chanel interlinking Cs. The Nickelodeon orange splat. All brand agencies will tell you that a brand is about more than the logo, but it doesn’t mean the logo and a strong visual identity isn’t vital. If it’s done well, your visual brand (colours, fonts, imagery) and creative mark can do a lot of the heavy-lifting for your brand and how it makes your audience feel.

 

  1. Consider all elements of ‘brand’

Although a logo is obviously a vital brand touchpoint (see above!) branding is everything which makes your audience think or feel a certain way. For example the ‘brand’ for a restaurant must consider basic things like menu colours, logos and fonts – but also it’s the ‘physical brand’, so the type and volume of music, scents, quality of cutlery, staff uniforms, levels of lighting, the greeting guests receive etc. Think about how different it feels to sit in a burger joint than a high-end restaurant.

 

  1. Be consistent

Branding is nothing without consistency. Of course, companies can ‘re-brand’ which changes their look and feel, but the core tenets of a brand should not fundamentally change. With every brand you’re aiming to build your ‘brand equity’ —this is the ‘value’ you add to your company or organisation through branding and the association your audience has with it. This is built up over time, and conversely can be lost overnight if not handled properly.

 

  1. Don’t skip the basics: Vision and Mission

There are vital Brand ‘building blocks’ you simply cannot skip. Your Vision is your ‘why’ and your Mission is your ‘what’. Defining a brand mission is usually pretty straightforward, but it can sometimes take much longer to define the Vision. We’ve seen clients take months to come up with their Vision statement – but once it’s done, it’s a core part of everything the business does. It’s usually why the Vision is front and centre on organisations’ websites or in staff induction packs.

 

  1. Identify your point of difference

Brands can become obsessed with competitors — this is something we wouldn’t advise. It’s important to know your competitors and what they’re offering, but you should spend more time working out what is different about YOU. It’s this point of difference that is the essence of your brand. It’s what sets you apart from the rest, and the centre point from which you can build out the rest of your brand.

 

  1. Know your limits — don’t overreach

When you’re working on a brand it’s easy to get carried away; especially if it’s your own brand or company which you’ve poured countless resources into. But we’ve seen clients licence IP for trainers and energy drinks for their brand before they’ve thought about their Vision statement. Branding is a process, and if you follow the right steps you’ll end up with a strong and clear brand. And if you look at any successful business, a strong and clear brand is always at the heart of it. Resist the temptation to get distracted and move too quickly, overlooking the important bits of branding.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid of failure

We hear every day from clients: “we have to get this right”. It’s true, of course. But we always tell them “we’ll get it wrong a few times first”. There’s no way that any brand ever stumbled across its final iteration without rounds and rounds of edits (and probably arguments!). From re-written Vision and Mission statements, to logo changes — brand is an evolution. If you want to get it right the first time, you’re probably going to be disappointed!

 

  1. Get help!

Branding is a conundrum. It can sometimes seem like the most simple thing in the world, but at the same time feel totally overwhelming when you’re not getting it right. We see it every day with clients. Getting a good brand agency or expert to help steer you through branding for your product, company or campaign is vital – and definitely pays dividends in the long run. You often live and breathe your brand, and getting an outside view can give you the perspective you need.

About the Authors

Pete Austin and Anna Tsekouras are the dynamic duo behind Anon, a story-led brand agency. Since launching in late 2020 the Agency has created new brands from scratch for a number of start-ups as well as taking existing small businesses through to funding rounds. Both qualified journalists with over twenty years’ experience on newspapers and national magazines, they transferred their story-driven skills into communications, brand and PR where they worked on major partnerships and campaigns across national government, higher education, charity and the arts. Some of the organisations, clients and businesses Anna and Pete have worked on brand briefs or partnerships with: UAL, Goldsmiths University of London, Hayward Gallery, IBM, Barclays, British Airways, Barbican, Grayson Perry, Design Museum, British Museum, TATE Modern, VICE, Bustle, Evening Standard, BBC, DAN’S and Public Offerings Ltd.

They also teach our intensive Branding A to Z short course at City.

Sign up for Intro to Branding HERE. Next course starts Feb 26 — BOOK NOW.

See what other writing courses we have on offer HERE.

Or browse our full range of short courses HERE.

How I developed three personalities, and why…

Like many multi-linguals, I have varied personality shifts. I am professional in English, friendly in Portuguese, but reserved in Russian.

I was born in St. Petersburg and spoke Russian for the first fourteen years of my life. Then my family moved to Porto in Portugal where I went to an international school. All my classes were in English, but at breaktime everyone spoke Portuguese. It forced me to improve my English and become fluent in Portuguese, in just nine months. 

An epiphany

I’m twenty-five now and was recently confronted with the fact that I behave differently depending on which language I’m speaking. After a work call with a Russian tech client, a colleague remarked that I hadn’t been myself. I was more serious, less confident and made fewer jokes. 

Chatting about it later with bilingual friends, I understood I’m not alone. My Brazilian friend Sarah – who I met at international school – for example, is ambitious in English, a bit anxious in Portuguese, flirty in French, and funny in German!

When in Rome

While learning a new language we tend to get acquainted with a new culture – and change the way we portray ourselves to fit in. Dr Francois Grosjean , author of Bilingual: Life and Reality, says that this is most common among those who are integrated into the culture of the language they’re adopting. 

Portuguese culture, for example, is friendly, open and kind. Now, whenever I’m speaking it, I become all three. It works like a switch and comes very naturally to me.  When I was first learning Portuguese, my school friends regularly said ‘Com prazer’ (With pleasure) and ‘Está tudo bem?’ (Is everything good?), which made me feel welcome as the new girl in school. These kind phrases are now part of my vocabulary too.

Light switch

Last summer I got talking to an entrepreneur at a tech networking event. I was being professional until I realised she was Portuguese. As soon as we switched to Marta’s mother tongue it felt as if we knew each other, and we laughed.


Not many people speak to their boss like they do to their best friends. Therefore, when bilinguals develop their language for a specific purpose – for work, for example – they tend to sound formal and professional, even in informal situations. 


Serious struggle

This theory by Dr Nathan Young explains why I always feel younger when speaking Russian, which I mostly do when around my family. I also struggle to explain to them what I do for a living, because I lack the vocabulary. ‘When are you going to start doing something ‘serious?’ they always ask.

The cause of my personality shifts is probably a combination of both Grosjean’s and Young’s theories. Either way, my daily personality shifts are a blessing and a bit of a ‘curse’. They make me more flexible at work and in my social life. But they also make it difficult to know which traits are truest to me. I’m looking forward to finding out for sure.

Viktoriia Tkachenko is a freelance startup consultant. She is also an alumna of City’s Writing for Business course, taught by Maggie Richards and Tamsin Mackay. As part of the course, students are invited to pitch a blog post idea which, if successful, will be edited and published on our site. 

Viktoriia today in London

Viktoriia, 18, with family at her graduation from international school, Porto.

Viktoriia, aged six, St Petersburg.

For more on our writing courses, visit our full range HERE. For all our short courses visit HERE.

How I Navigate Imposter Syndrome as a Non-Native English Writer

Author Dominik Jemec Photo by Marcel Kukovec

By Dominik Jemec

“You’ll never be good enough because you’re not a native writer.” That’s what a professor of translation studies at my university in Austria told me when I said my dream was to be an English writer. That was five years ago.

I’ve had many awful jobs since graduating, from delivering mail in sweltering heat to fielding daily insults while working in a call centre. Then in 2021, I got my first writing job: creating customer care-related content about cryptocurrencies. After a mass layoff in the summer of 2022, I joined a travel company called TourRadar as a content specialist, where I work on creative campaigns.

But I’m not complacent. My impostor syndrome leaks out of me a lot. If you’re a non-native writer like me, you may be fighting the same demons. Here’s how I keep them at bay.

I split up my writing process

You can’t be a writer without writing. But if you’re constantly questioning your skills, how do you actually get down to writing?

First, research. I use AI tools like ChatGPT 4. They’re just much better than looking things up online. I write detailed prompts because the better my input, the better the output.

Then I write, without overthinking. To stay focused, I put on a timer and just hammer out the text. If I have writer’s block, I ask ChatGPT to write a draft based on the research.

Lastly, I edit. It’s a tough process. Sometimes I have to remove parts I really like that just don’t fit. But I never discard them – I put them in a document with other unused content. Editing is ‘magical’. I might go a certain direction when I write, then turn it on its head when I edit.

I seek feedback

I’ve often been scared to send a piece of writing to my manager for proofreading. I would try to make every sentence perfect, thinking I’d be sacked if I didn’t. The pressure I put on myself took more energy than the writing itself, so I eventually learned to let go.

Every time my manager gives me feedback, I go through it carefully, analysing where I need to improve. All my favourite writers – Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams and Hunter S. Thompson – got edited, so why shouldn’t I?

Outside of work, I get writing feedback from the Sunday WritersClub, and do specialised courses, including City, University of London’s Introduction to Copywriting, led by Maggie Richards. Not only did I learn the fundamentals of copywriting, I wrote a lot of copy and received helpful feedback from Maggie.

I connect with other writers

I listen to writing podcasts like the Copywriter Club, and follow creative writers like Drayton Bird, Dan Nelken and Eddie Shleyner on LinkedIn. If, for example, you love advertising like I do, whenever you see an ad you like, find out who produced it and start following them on social media. The knowledge writers share (for free) is staggering.

I embrace my voice

I used to embellish my writing because I really wanted to prove myself. But I’ve found that such texts are mostly unreadable. I’ve learned that simplicity wins.

There is merit in emulating good flow and sentence structure, but at the end of the day, your voice is your USP. Incorporate idioms, metaphors and storytelling elements from your own culture. Your writing will stand out.

I apply for all writing jobs

Many writing jobs ask for a native writer. After I started my current job, I asked our recruiters how many people had applied for the position. Through one job search platform alone there were over 60 applicants. Many were probably native writers with impressive CVs. So why did I get the job? Maybe because of my unwavering passion for writing.

I truly hope my tips help you overcome any self-doubts you may have as a non-native writer – and inspire you to keep on writing well, no matter what lies ahead.

About the author: Dominik Jemec is a Slovenian working in Vienna as a content writer in his third language, English. You can connect with Dominik on LinkedIn.

Dominik took City’s Introduction to Copywriting course taught by Maggie Richards. As part of the course, students can pitch a blog idea. If successful, the post will then be edited and appear on our site. For our full range of courses, visit HERE.

 

 

Autumn 2023 News from our Writing Community

Happy Autumn! Here’s the latest news from our fantastic writing short course alumni and tutors…

 

Alumni News

Author and City short course alumna Deepa Anappara

Oneworld have acquired The Last of Earth, the second novel by Novel Studio alumna Deepa Anappara. The novel will be published in hardback as a lead title in March 2025. An historical novel set in mid-19th century Tibet, Juliet Mabey at Oneworld said ‘I’m delighted to be working with such a bold and unique storyteller.’

 

Katy Darby’s Writers’ Workshop and Short Story Writing students have had more astonishing success. Rupert Dastur has sold his debut novel Cloudless to Penguin. Richie Jones was shortlisted for the London Magazine Short Story Prize. Sean Hannaway, as S. P. Hannaway, recently had a short story published in Stand (‘This or That or Any Other Thing’) and one is forthcoming in The Pomegranate (‘Exit Pye, with Cushion’). Sean was also shortlisted for the Bristol Prize in 2021 for his short story ‘Love, Hunger’.

Peter Forbes’ Narrative Non Fiction alumni have been as busy as ever!

Narrative Non Fiction Alumna Claire Martin’s debut, Heirs of Ambition

NNF alumna Claire Martin published her debut book Heirs of Ambition: The Making of the Boleyns in September with History Press. Ed O’Brien’s article ‘Hardcore Landscaping: how to grow a garden on sand, gravel and concrete’ was published in The Guardian on 28 July 2023; and Alice Kent’s memoir  ‘And Those are Stars’ was published in Hinterland, Issue 13, 2023.

Amal Abdi, graduate of Holly Rigby’s Narrative Non Fiction course, has been commissioned to write a new play for London’s Rich Mix theatre venue. The play will run for two dates on Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th October and can be booked here.

Susan Grossman’s Travel Writing Student, Yvette Cook, has had successful travel journalism commissions from The Independent, The Slovenia Tourist Board and BBC Sky at Night.

Competitions

City Writes, City’s termly writing competition for all past and present City short course writing students, is open for submissions. This term’s event is on Wednesday 13th December at 7pm on Zoom and the published guest author will be writer and City tutor, Caroline Green. Not only does Caroline write fiction for young people and adults, she is also the much valued and acclaimed teacher of the Crime and Thriller Writing short course here at City. From YA, through psychological thriller, to supernatural detective fiction, Caroline Green is an inspirational powerhouse. Register here now to save your spot for the night.

If you would like to read your work in front of a supportive audience and share the virtual stage with Caroline on the 13th December, all you need to do is submit your best 1,000 words of fiction or creative non-fiction (we accept YA but sadly NOT poetry, drama or children’s fiction) to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk by midnight on Friday 10th November. Please check the full submission details here.

 The Book Edit Writers’ Prize 2023 is open for submissions. Judged this year by Deepa Anappara, and in association with Legend Press, the prize is free to enter and open to all British or UK-based unpublished, unagented novelists from communities currently underrepresented in UK publishing. For more details visit the prize page here. Deadline 23 October.

 Scholarships

We offer a fully-funded place for a young adult (18-25) from an underrepresented background and/or facing financial difficulty on our Writing for Social Impact course. To apply, please contact the tutor Ciaran Thapar explaining why you’d like to attend. This course is now offered monthly to reflect the increased demand.

 Tutor News

Author and Short Course Tutor Katy Darby

Short Story and Writers’ Workshop tutor Katy Darby has three new historical short stories coming out in anthologies in November, with Belanger Books.

Writing for Children tutor Bryony Pearce’s new Mid-grade novel, Hannah Messenger and the Gods of Hockwold, was published in June, and her short story is in a new sci fi anthology Parsec in Print.

Writing the Memoir tutor Anna Wilson’s picture book Grandpa and the Kingfisher was shortlisted for the Wainwright Nature Prize, illustrated by Sarah Massini.

And finally, we have a new Writing for Business tutor on Monday evenings, Tamsin Mackay. Welcome, Tamsin! And huge thanks to Jenny Stallard, who Tamsin is replacing, for her brilliant teaching the past few years.

Happy Writing Everyone. and congrats to all our brilliant alumni and tutors.

The Starlit Dancer: the magical new book by City copywriting tutor Maggie Richards

Author and City tutor Maggie Richards

In celebration of the publication of her new book, The Starlit Dancer, City writing short courses caught up with author Maggie Richards to find out more about the book and her writing career.

Short Courses (SC): Please tell us a bit about yourself and your role at City

Maggie Richards (MR): I’m a former Times, Sunday Times and Guardian journalist and author of ‘A Guide to Being a Better Being.’ At City teach a monthly sell-out masterclass on Zoom called ‘Introduction to Copywriting’. It’s a fun and practical distillation of inspiring insights, techniques and approaches I’ve learned over my 24-year career.

I love the diversity of international students that the course attracts, and witnessing their confidence and clarity grow over just six hours. Several have gone on to secure paid copywriting roles, which is great! I also teach City’s Writing for Business short course

SC: You’ve published The Starlit Dancer, a beautiful picture book for 3-7 year-olds about Mabel, a girl whose love lights up the world. It’s a really inspiring read and a great way to help children sleep better and introduce them to the idea of a loving inner voice they can trust. Meditation is a key part of your life and work. With Spiritual Adviser, Executive Producer – Christspiracy, Associate Producer – SLAY Film and Screenwriter Cher Chevalier, you co-wrote the 24 (8×3) meditations that launched Calm, iTunes App of the Year 2017. What made you turn towards writing a children’s book?

MR: Through Cher, also author of the Animals Actually A-Z of books, I’d already been guided to work spiritually with children, and had set up relaxation classes to teach them about kindness, positive thinking and meditation. Good books can change lives and perhaps it was a natural progression to uplift little ones through a something they can hold and keep.

 

SC:  Can you tell us about the process of writing and publishing the book?

MR: The Starlit Dancer is rare because it’s an inspired book – the story came flowing into my mind one day. I didn’t know it was coming! It’s always a special honour to be entrusted with words, especially when they’re so joyful.

It was important that only good energy went into our little book, which is why the author, advisers, translators and narrators are all successful veggie-vegan women.

The Spanish version was co-translated and narrated by Argentine actress, film producer and animal rights activist Liz Solari, while Australia-based voice over artist Natasha Beaumont narrates the English version, and a quick Google search for ‘vegan illustrators’ connected us with the talented Antonella Canavese from Italy.

For full control of the publishing process, I self-published with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. It was largely quick, simple and easy, and when I needed help, the Customer Service team responded within 24 hours. 

Formatting the manuscripts as a paperback and ebook was done by professionals on fiverr.com, while the audiobook files were prepared by recording studios, and I uploaded them for free to ACX.com. Teamwork makes the dream work!

SC: You’re a copywriter by profession. How different was it to write a story for children?

MR: Copywriting requires planning, researching, meeting the brief, and often aims to sell a product or service. The Starlit Dancer story required much less effort because it was given to me in its entirety largely as it’s written.

SC: Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to write their own children’s book?

MR: Three points come to mind:

1) Choose carefully your goal and make it good. We all have a responsibility to empower little ones by educating them in the steps to success: how to be kind, happy and harmless, for example.

2) Words (and thoughts) shape our world. It’s important to speak sweetly to children, choosing positive, loving words and phrases so as to feed their minds only ‘light’.

3) Use rhyme – it’s a great way of learning and fun to write. Repetition, too, helps very young children engage and learn.

Thanks so much, Maggie, and congratulations on the book.

You can buy Maggie’s book HERE. The Starlit Dancer is available in paperback, ebook and audiobook in English, Welsh and Spanish.

If you’re interested in taking her copywriting course, click HERE.

If you would like to try your hand at writing a children’s book, our Writing for Children short course, taught by author Bryony Pearce is HERE.

For all our short writing courses, go HERE. And for all our short course news, visit our blog HERE.

 

 

 

Top Nine Courses to Help you Develop your Digital Skills

The digital revolution is well and truly under way, and it’s transforming the way we live, and work. According to the World Economic Forum’s report on the future of jobs, 97 million high-skilled jobs will be created by 2025, and almost all will require strong digital skills. From reducing the digital skills gap, to fostering innovation and increasing productivity, it’s now more important than ever for employees to acquire digital skills, and for employers to invest in those skills for their teams. Read on for City’s top nine courses to help you develop your digital skills and remain competitive within today’s ever changing jobs market.

1.Introduction to Data Analytics and Machine Learning with Python

The fields of data analytics and machine learning are vast and fast expanding. By leveraging the most widely used Python libraries, this short online evening course will give you the foundations to enable you to get a junior position as a data analyst and/or machine learning engineer.

2.Creating Mobile Apps with Android

There’s An App For That

There’s an app for that. City’s Android app developer short course gives you a comprehensive understanding of the Android development platform and the skills required to develop and publish your own applications. By the end of thecourse you will have created your own Android app which you can publish in Google Play.

3.Digital Marketing Fundamentals

Spread The Word

Digital platforms have become the primary medium for marketing and it’s now essential for all marketers to have good digital knowledge. Our short course will equip you with the principle digital skills required to ensure you know how to maximise your marketing across websites, social media and digital advertising..

4.Writing for the Web and Digital Media

Being able to write effectively for digital will give you the edge so you can attract, and keep, the attention of your online audience and successfully present written content. The course also covers editing and proof-reading skills, best practice for titles and subheadings, blogging, editorial planning, content marketing and SEO.

5.Building Websites with HTML5 and CSS3

Having your own online presence is fast becoming an essential in today’s jobs market. City’s short course will teach you how to plan, design, develop and publish your own fully functional website which adheres to current industry standards and best practices.

6.Cybersecurity Fundamentals

Cybercrime is a growing global menace costing companies millions in lost revenue each year. This online short course will ground you in the essential cyber security practices, such as networking, security engineering, risk management, incident response, governance control and legal practicalities.

Securing Cyberspace?

7.Photoshop: An Introduction

Being able to create and manipulate a digital image can increase your productivity and enhance your workflow. On this short online courseyou’ll be given a comprehensive overview of Photoshop—the industry’s most flexible photo editing software—and learn the fundamentals of digital imaging, including how to make your own digital creations.

8.Digital Filmmaking: An Introduction

The digital revolution has transformed the way films can be made. On this short course, led by an award-winning film director, producer and screenwriter, you’ll be guided through the processes of making a short film. You’ll also develop a good understanding of the creative interconnection between writing, shooting and editing.

9.Introduction to Branding

Aimed at entrepreneurs, small business owners, communications and marketing professionals or anyone interested in learning how to communicate their brand more effectively, this short course will explore a full introduction to making your online brand a success—from online brand strategy to writing on-brand social media messaging and digital marketing.

For more on our short courses provision, visit our home page HERE.

On Brand

Or come along to our virtual Open Evening next week on 28 March to talk to one of our coordinators where you can also try out a free taster course.  Register HERE.

A Cautionary Tale of ‘Reply All’

We’ve all been there… you were either the recipient or the sender of an accidental reply-all email. It may have made you cringe. It may have made you wonder whether you should acknowledge your mistake. Should you apologise? Should you notify the sender? One thing is certain, it looks unprofessional. Writing for Business student, Karen Young, gives her top three reply-all blunders: how to deal with them, and how to avoid them.

 

Ready to send?

1.The time you didn’t check your email before replying all. The result: you’ve sent a comment that was meant specifically for one colleague and ended up offending the other external recipients.

We’ve all done it: hit reply-all by accident, whether it’s on your mobile or desktop, and not checked that all-important email before sending. You may have made a comment to your colleague and cc’d the external recipients. It could have been a response meant only for your colleagues.

What should you do? Acknowledge that you sent the email to the external recipients by mistake. And apologise: they could have been customers or third-party suppliers.

My advice: always triple-check your email before sending. Check the recipients and cc’s, the subject, and the body text. You will never regret doing so.

 

2.When a flurry of people reply-all to the whole company

A company-wide email is sent. The topic could be an upcoming event, a milestone, or a financial goal reached. If senior management acknowledge this, fine. But there’s no need for everyone to say “Fantastic”, or “Okay”, or “Thanks”. This type of reply-all clogs up inboxes and the server.

My advice: if you have a meaningful reply, select only those who need to hear it.

Think before you click?

3.You’ve accidentally replied all, and then those in copy purposefully reply-all to let you know you’ve replied all!

My advice: If you need to let the person know they’ve made the mistake of replying all, let them know. Everyone else on copy will already know. Reply to the sender only.

To aid the fight against the reply-all annoyance, Microsoft have helpfully enabled a feature to deal with email storms – a Reply All Storm Protection Feature. Check whether your organisation has this. It could save many headaches.

Above all, consider whether a reply-all is necessary and always triple-check your emails. It may take a few minutes when time is precious but it is always worthwhile!

Triple check before you hit send

About the author

Karen Young has worked in secretarial / assistant roles for 24 years in three different industries – law, private equity, and most recently mining. She holds a Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law through the Institute of Legal Executives. Karen enjoys learning to maintain her professional development, including the very rewarding City’s Writing for Business short course.

For more on the Writing for Business course Karen took, visit our webpage.

We are also running our Writing for Business course this summer as a one-week intensive. For more information visit the course page here.

To find out more about our vibrant writing short course portfolio, including our summer schools, visit our website here.

 

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