How To Make A Powerful Academic Argument

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Today on the blog we are talking about how to make a powerful argument in your academic papers. Arguments are the backbone of any paper, so it's your job to make a sound one. I am sharing the top five tips I have learned for creating convincing arguments. I hope that this will help you become a more successful academic writer.

I recently polled my Twitter audience on this topic, and the results were pretty split (half and half, to be exact) some people do have trouble making powerful academic arguments, while others feel they are strong in this regard. No matter where you stand, I hope that this post proves helpful for you. I am writing some of my best tips that I have learned from grading hundreds of papers as well as writing as a student myself.

1. Have A Clear, Concise Introduction and Backbone

The first thing we are going to discuss today is creating a clear and concise introduction and backbone to your academic article. This is such an important step to crushing your goals on your next academic article or even your next blog post. You have to start with the basics, darling!

Outline To Success

So I am not telling you that this outline has to be lengthy, but the more lengthy the outline is the better. I love outlines because once I build an outline, I can skip around in my paper. For example, while writing this post I have five sections. Now that I have those sections I can write from 1-5, or I can skip to section 4 and write a little on that and write the sections that inspire me first. I usually write my own blog posts with an outline format. I come up with the general ideas I want to cover and then I skip around the sections until my blog post is complete.

I also write my academic research like this. If you can skip around to what actually engages you the most, you can get a lot more done, but you need to make an outline first. Once you have your outline done you can:

Write a Kick-Ass Introduction Paragraph

One my all-time favorite articles I have ever written is called How To Write A Kick Ass Introductory Paragraph. In this post I give readers my top five ways to have a kick-ass intro paragraph. In my opinion a kick-ass intro paragraph is concise, relevant, humorous, professional, and enticing. I break these down in more detail in the post, but the biggest thing your introduction paragraph needs to do is share a concise outline of what you will be talking about. You can use the bullet points you made in your outline to do this. It may seem simple to say, "This paper will talk about point a, point b, and point c," but this is the best way to share your thinking process quickly and easily with your readers.

2. Use Your Sources

You are not an expert in your field, but as a college student you have access to a plethora of information about your field just by using research databases. I understand that research databases can seem very confusing so in my post Your Ultimate Guide to Using Research Databases I take you through all the steps (and I even share a 20 minute video where I show you how to do research on a database that I frequently use for my own research.) Once you get your articles in a row, you have to learn how to effectively skim them so It's a great thing I also have a post called Reading With Purpose: Article Skimming 101 where I show you all my best techniques for article skimming so you do not have to read entire articles in order to understand what you are reading.

When it comes to sources I highly suggest you use the most recent information about your subject in order to build an effective argument. You don't want to base your argument on information found in the 1960s, especially since most information has changed a whole lot since then. You may want to include some pivotal works in your field in the paper, but this will come out of your research. More than likely, if there is an important work that you need to cite, other modern works will be citing that research.

3. Use an Academic Voice

An academic voice does a couple of things:

  1. It uses correct spelling and grammar.
  2. It does not use contractions.
  3. It is active.
  4. It flows from sentence to sentence.
  5. It uses the vocabulary of the discipline it is representing.

One of my FAVORITE tools for making sure my spelling and grammar is on fleek is a plugin called Grammarly. I am sure you have heard me talk about Grammarly if you have followed me the past few months. It's a great spelling and grammar checker and I am obsessed with talking about it and using it. Until recently I hadn't really used Grammarly, but after using it a few times I loved it so much I bought a year of premium and I became a Grammarly affiliate. In my opinion all students need to use Grammarly so if you are looking for a spelling and grammar checker, you need to check them out.

One thing that pushes Grammarly above all other spelling/grammar checkers in my opinion is how smart it is. Most spelling and grammar checkers will give your words as pass if they meet the basic spelling requirements, but not Grammarly. Based on the context a word is used in, Grammarly will suggest different words even if the word is technically spelled correctly. I adore Grammarly for that feature.

Over the past few weeks of writing with Grammarly I have noticed that my writing overall is improving when I run my academic papers by Grammarly. My professors are catching a lot less mistakes, and it's not just when I actively use Grammarly. I am able to apply some of the lessons they have taught me about writing (as well as diversifying my vocabulary) even when I am not running my writing through Grammarly.

Another point I want to touch on is using the language of your discipline. In a recent article on The Happy Arkansan written by Amelie of A Wanderer's Adventure she mentioned her favorite writing resources, included in this list of resources was a specialized dictionary or encyclopedia. These are really great if you want to use language that is specific to your field. Using this specific language will help boot your argument to people in your discipline.

4. Recognize the Other Side of the Argument

The next piece of the puzzle is that you have to recognize the other side of the argument. When you don't recognize and discuss the other half of the argument, you leave a large portion of your argument to be debunked. Declining to even acknowledge the other side makes it seem like you have something to hide within your paper, so it is important that you take a few sentences (or even paragraphs) to respond to the other side of your argument throughout your paper. A well rounded argument is the best argument.

You don't have to focus on the argument a lot, but my suggestion is to read a few papers who have an opposite opinion to the main argument you have in your paper. Cite a couple of the most important sentences in their paper, and see how you can explain, debunk, or acknowledge their worth. You won't always disagree with everything they say, and being able to share a little bit of the pros and cons of their argument without fear will only boost your argument.

5. Don't Be A Disaster Scenario Thinker

Lastly, as I have been grading lots of papers this semester I have noticed something about a lot of students. In order to fill up space in your paper you base your arguments on the worst case scenario of the other side. For example, say you were supposed to argue about whether or not alcohol should be legal on campus and you were against it. Instead of basing your argument in a calm, best case scenario way--you may dive straight into the instances of drunk driving that legal alcohol on campus may bring or you might talk about how alcohol is bad for you and that might lead to marijuana and marijuana leads to cocaine, etc.

This is not how you perform a sound argument.

Acknowledge the worst case scenario but don't build an argument around it. You wouldn't want the other side to do it to you. For example, if someone was for the legalization of alcohol on campus you wouldn't want them to point out the worst case scenario on your side. You wouldn't want them to point to prohibition and state that keeping alcohol illegal on campus would lead to prohibition era problems on college campuses. You must make your arguments based in reality and not the worst case, because often in life the worst case scenario doesn't happen so you want to make sure your argument can stand the test of time.

Final Thoughts

I hope that this post was helpful for you as you write any of your leftover and future assignments. Writing convincing arguments is a skill that needs to be honed in and perfected overtime. 

What did you learn from today's blog post on arguments?

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How To Make A Powerful Academic Argument | Making a compelling academic argument is important in college.  Click through to read my top five tips for creating a stellar argument in your next paper.

5 Important Things To Know About Your Ideal Client

Today on the blog we are talking about five basic things you need to know about your ideal client in order to succeed. This is your blog, girlfriend, but in order to monetize and be successful you have gotta go after your ideal audience. I am here to tell you five basic things you need to know so that you can make sure your message is on fleek and resonating with the right audience. 

During today's post we will also discuss how to figure out where your current audience stands using Google Analytics so you can see how your ideal and real client match up. Often we have an idea of what we want our ideal client to look like that doesn't match up with our real clients so I am going to share some ideas on how to fix that.

1. Your ideal Client's Age

So, the first thing you gotta do is figure out the age of your ideal client. Millennials are very different from Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and more.  Once you realize their age this will help you target your language (should you drop a few curse words here and there or keep it relatively clean?), font (can you keep it small or do you need to have a larger font?), colors (can you keep it bright or will darker colors work better?), etc. Age really does make a difference to how everything on your blog or business page is shared as well as where you share it. If your target is older your favorite social media network may be Facebook whereas if your brand is younger you can get away with things like Instagram and Twitter.

Since my ideal audience is made up of millennial women I spend most of my social media time on Twitter and Instagram over Facebook. I usually only share a couple of things on Facebook each week whereas I post about twice a day on Instagram and many times a day on Twitter. When I do use Facebook, I mostly hang out in Facebook groups over posting to my Facebook page. Most of my Facebook traffic comes from Facebook Groups and not my actual Facebook page since it is so difficult to get traction on Facebook pages.

2. Your ideal client's Gender

On my shop The Happy Arkansan Print Shop I have an adorable shirt that says "Last Clean Shirt" and it has a VERY feminine font. At the end of the day, I could have chosen a font that was more neutral or even masculine, but I didn't. I bring this up because I was showing my mother the shirt and she suggested that my dad and her support the shop and get matching shirts. I mentioned the font choice might not be the best one for my dad, because I didn't think he'd be into it. I was right, he wasn't. It wasn't built for masculine people though. It was meant for mainly feminine women.

Women make up about 90% of the audience on my blog and since this is called The Happy Arkansan Print Shop, I wanted to make sure that my store matched my blog as much as possible in it's direction and ideal customer.

Women and men have a lot in common, but there are somethings you have to keep in mind like font; colors;  and what to offer or share with your readers if you have a different audience in mind. Also, how you choose to address your audience may be impacted by your audience's gender. I assume that most people who view my blog are women and I address them as women. I say things like darling, sweetie, lovely, etc when I write emails or talk on social media. Also, earlier in this post you saw that I used the words, "This is your blog, girlfriend," which indicates that I do see my audience as being mostly made up of women.

Get Your Ideal Client Guide!

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Subscribe with your email address to get my ideal client guide. Within this guide you will get 44 potential questions to ask yourself about your ideal client so you can get to know them better and build an ideal client avatar.

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3. Your ideal client's Financial Situation

Okay, my audience is made up of millennial women who are getting their education and/or who work in a digital space. I know there are certain things I cannot easily sell to my audience. I have to be careful about the price of my own products and the price of the products I share online. I cannot expect a college student to be able to afford a $1,000 product, it's just not something I can even begin to consider.

If you know the financial situation of your audience you can either provide products at a rate they can afford OR you can provide your products in a way that is more affordable to them (think payment plans and limited time bonus deals.) You don't want to discount your worth, but at the same time if you are going after a specific audience you have to know the limitations of that audience or you won't sell much of your product or the products that you are selling for others.

Get your audience to understand bang for the buck

As a bonus tip, it is important to get your client to understand the concept of bang for the book. Somethings are going to take investments. You can't expect everything to be out there for free or for a $1. Provide VALUE on VALUE to your clients/readers and get them to understand why your product or a product you are selling is so freaking awesome! Test the product yourself if you are selling another person's product or get someone to test a product that you have made. What value did you get from this. Why does your audience NEED this product. I am a broke graduate student but I will invest in a $300 course or product if I think it would be a valuable asset to me.

4. Your ideal client's Location

Where your audience is can really impact what you sell. At The Happy Arkansan I love to share Arkansas brands, but I am also very specific about which local brands I share. I try to only share brands that have e-commerce websites because I know that a lot of my audience is actually in Texas and California so I want them to be able to buy anything I share with them.

Knowing the location of your ideal audience is so important because it can really dictate how you speak (do you use y'all or other slang words?), what brands you can sell them (as I stated earlier, you need to make sure your ideal client has access to the brands you showcase based on location), what language you use (if they are in Mexico, do you use Spanish as your language or something else?), etc. If you know their location, this gives you a large amount of information about your ideal client and how you can best serve them.

Get Your Ideal Client Guide!

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Subscribe with your email address to get my ideal client guide. Within this guide you will get 44 potential questions to ask yourself about your ideal client so you can get to know them better and build an ideal client avatar.

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5. Your ideal client's viewing platform

No matter your ideal client YOU NEED TO HAVE A MOBILE FRIENDLY WEBSITE. Having a mobile friendly website is extremely beneficial and you would be surprised how much of your audience views you on mobile. Until recently I never really viewed blogs often on my phone, but once you get a smart phone this task becomes way easier. About half of my views come from mobile and/or tablets so it is really important for me that my website is mobile responsive.

You need to check out your site on mobile to see if you need to make adjustments to how your site is seen. You also need to understand how your ideal client may use technology. Since my ideal clients are millennial women, I know that technology is extremely important to them. They use technology often so I need to have a site they can view on mobile. If your ideal client is older, having a mobile friendly site may not be as important--but as you get older your ideal client will change and become more mobile friendly so if you want to have a long term business make sure your site is mobile friendly.

There is really no down side to having a mobile friendly site. Unless you find a website template that isn't mobile friendly that you really just adore, having a mobile friendly site doesn't affect your desktop website.

How Do I Find All this information out about my ideal client?

You can find all of this information pretty easily by looking at the Google Analytics that have been collecting in your account. Google Analytics is such a POWERFUL tool for all bloggers and infopreneurs who have access to it. If you do not have Google Analytics on your blog you need to get it now. Google Analytics is a FREE tool and with a lot of blogging platforms now it takes only seconds to install.

How to find most of these items in Google Analytics

  1. Age: Audience -----> Demographics -----> Age
  2. Gender: Audience -----> Demographics -----> Gender
  3. Location: Audience -----> Geo -----> Location
  4. Platform: There are two ways to get a handle on this stat. Audience -----> Technology   -----> Browser & OS OR Audience -----> Mobile ----> Overview.

As far as their financial situation, it may be more helpful to send an anonymous survey or estimate where your ideal reader or customer is like based on generalities about the age, gender, location, etc information you already have by looking at Google Analytics

Be careful to understand real audience versus ideal audience

While I mention how you can figure most of these things out in Google Analytics, be sure that you are not confusing your real audience with your ideal audience. Unfortunately you may not be attracting your ideal audience. If you are, that's awesome! But if you are not don't be afraid to predict how you what you want your ideal audience to look.

What to do if your current audience doesn't match your ideal audience

There are a few things you can do if your current audience doesn't match your ideal audience. Here are four potential things you can do:

  1. You can adjust your ideal audience to meet the needs of your current audience.
  2. You can slowly shift your real audience to meet the needs of your ideal audience.
  3. You can scrap your current audience and find a new audience that matches your ideal audience.
  4. You can start a second blog or business that caters to your ideal audience.

Sometimes, you just don't attract the audience you thought you would and that's okay. You need to evaluate the content that you are offering to your readers, how your content is packaged (think about your images, your social media profiles, font, colors, etc.), and where you are sharing your content (where does your ideal audience hang out? On Pinterest, in Facebook Groups, on Instagram? You need to know this information.) Do your research, send out surveys, find a person or an actual reader/client on social media and see what they interact with the most, then see how you can implement all this information on your own blog or in your own business.

Get Your Ideal Client Guide!

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Subscribe with your email address to get my ideal client guide. Within this guide you will get 44 potential questions to ask yourself about your ideal client so you can get to know them better and build an ideal client avatar.

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Don't be afraid to pick an audience

Picking an audience is very important. Whenever I think of picking an ideal audience I always come back to the words of Ron Swanson, "Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing," Ron Swanson was so right in this quote. Don't try to do everything and be everything to everyone. It doesn't mean you have to be pigeonholed and niche down to where you are only talking about one topic, but you have to find a way to succeed. If you are always talking for younger and older people, always trying to chose neutral colors because you want to attract men and women, always trying to please to many people at once, you will lose sight of what makes your blog special. 

One thing I have heard a lot lately is that the riches are in the niches. I am not extremely niched down, but I know who I am speaking to, and I am finding a schedule that works to speak to those people. Don't be afraid to pick the people you want to resonate, because if they resonate with your blog they will share your content with other people they resonate with. Your ideal client is out there and they are honestly THE BEST representative for your blog or business.

Final Thoughts

In closing, you need to dive deep to understand your ideal client. When you have a firm grasp on your ideal client you can then see if you are attracting the right audience and finally you can see how you can best serve both your ideal and real audience in the future. 

Who do you want your brand to attract?

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5 Important Things To Know About Your Ideal Client | You need to learn about your ideal client. Check out this blog post to understand the five things you need to know and how to find out if your current audience matches up.

Video: Wonderlass Blog + Life Planner Review

Today on the blog I want to share my latest YouTube video with you. Each Wednesday I will be sharing a super quick blog update with you featuring my latest YouTube video. Follow me there for the latest video updates as I will be sharing weekly videos over on my YouTube channel.

Wonderlass Blog + Life Planner Review

I have been looking for a planner that works for my blog for a while, but I could never find one that I quite liked. I am really obsessed with this planner from Wonderlass though. Here are some great things I like about the planner:

  • No Dates: There are absolutely no dates in this planner. Nothing is dated. Not the months, not the year, and not the days of course. This means you can start this planner in November, December, March, or any of the 12 months and still be on task. I am personally starting this planner this week for December. I decided to do this because I am trying to put together some systems that work for 2017 so I need a month to test things out.
  • Blog Stats Tracking: You can track everything from expenses/income to social media statistics in this planner. Unless you get a planner specific to blogging it's hard to have room for those kinds of stats in a planner. I love that there are dedicated pages to tracking blogging stuff in this planner.
  • Blog Business Plan: One of the great resources in this planner is the business plan you can fill out over time to help you decide the direction you would like to go.
  • Planner Quality: The quality of this planner is fantastic. It's hardback and 8x10, you can't go wrong with that.
  • Colorful Artwork: Another great thing about this planner is the artwork throughout. Allison did a seriously amazing job creating the art for this planner. I got the unicorn cover which is just perfect to be honest.

I am not going to lie about the pricing though, it is rather expensive, BUT it is a yearly planner that is hardback and it is a very large planner (8x10 planner) and honestly $47 is not that big of an investment for something you could potentially use every single day. Organization is very important for a blogger to succeed so if you can find something that will help you stay organized, why not invest?

The Review

Here is the video on YouTube. Don't forget to also subscribe to me there. I have posted a ton of videos there recently!

Check out the planner

Allison has published a number of great blog posts about both her planners (the Blog + Life Planner and the Life Planner for Course Creators.) I will link those blog posts here so you can check out the planners and support this wonderful blogger.

Thanks for reading the post! I hope you enjoyed this review of Wonderlass' Blog + Life Planner.

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Wonderlass Blog + Life Planner Review: Are you looking for a planner for your blog? I have a great recommendation for you! This planner is perfect for bloggers and biz owners. Click through to see why I love this planner so much!