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Brian Shaw

Part of typing machine with typed copywriting word on white paper

In my first semester at my University, I took a career exploration class to help me pick a major (parents forced me to take the class–you know how it is). Despite my best efforts, I actually enjoyed it, and can still remember the first time I encountered the term “copywriter.” I thought copywriting was some boring thing lawyers had to do (oh how foolish I was). As a full-time copywriter at Penna Powers, I can tell you that copywriting has nothing to do with lawyers (that’s copyright not copywriter).

Put simply, copywriting is the art of writing content for websites, ads or promotional material. As all copywriters are essentially full-time writers, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that there’s actually a massive dump of information online about copywriting. I mean, if you write all the time, why not take a minute or two to write down why your job is so awesome?

And let me tell you, my job is awesome! You see, a copywriter is charged with so much more than just putting words on a page. A copywriter is a conceptual thinker and an idea machine. We have to pluck disparate strings of characters out of the air and arrange them together in a way that not only makes sense, but also captivates. Sometimes it’s easy and the words simply fall into place. Other times I bang my head against the wall for hours.

When I start talking about the specifics, however, things get a little murky. You see, not only am I tasked to do significantly different things every day, but every agency is going to treat the position differently. Let me illustrate this point visually (which is weird, since I’m a word guy, right?). When I do a quick search for “copywriter’s desk” online, I find images like this:


Now obviously, no one in their right mind would limit themselves to that kind of phone or typewriter. But the point is that some agencies will hire copywriters to do one thing and one thing only: write. As far as I can tell, the general perception is that a copywriter will spend all of their time pumping out ad prose like their life depends on it. And in some cases, it probably does. The above desk represents this school of thought. Now here’s a picture of my desk:


My desk is a little busier. I wanted to contrast these two images to show that a copywriter doesn’t have to necessarily be just a copywriter. At Penna Powers, I do everything from implementing SEO into our websites to writing that next hit radio spot that you can’t wait to hear (because everyone loves radio spots, right?). Sometimes I write brochures and other times I’m the grip on a video shoot. On the rare occasion, they even convince me to write a blog post.

In the end, a copywriter does a lot of different things. Don’t believe me? Just check out this sweet word cloud that I found online. Need I say more?

Copywriting - marketing industry issues and concepts tag cloud illustration. Word cloud collage concept.


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It has been over a year since Pinterest first opened advertising to a select few, mostly large-scale brands. The original 12 brands were tied to expensive 6-month commitments, spending $150,000 per month during the timeframe. Fast-forward to February 2016, and agencies like Penna Powers now have access to one of the most coveted social audiences online. Using Pinterest’s initial CPM and CPC benchmarks of $30-$40 and $0.50-$1.50, we’ve launched our own campaigns with the results highlighted below. Before diving into the advertising costs, we thought it would be helpful to discuss what exactly makes up Pinterest advertising.

UntitledAdvertising on Pinterest is simple and straightforward in selecting one of two options, either an engagement campaign or one that drives traffic. After choosing a campaign objective, you are directed to select an existing campaign or prompted to set up a new one, followed by selecting the Pin you would like to use as an ad. A stand-out feature of the ad dashboard is when selecting a Pin for promotion, Pinterest shows you the most clicked and repinned Pins during the last 30 days. Pinterest’s targeting creates a native experience both on the web and in-app by selecting your audiences interests and their location.


Our initial tests for both engagement and website click campaigns were setup for a very popular retail client that was recently granted Pinterest advertising access. Our results are below:

Pinterest Advertising Campaign Performance:

Engagement Campaign:

  • CPE: $0.27
  • eCPE: $0.26
  • CPM: $5.30
  • CTR: 1.99%
  • eCTR: 2.03%

Website Click Campaign:

  • CPC: $1.52
  • eCPC: $1.52
  • CTR: 0.04%

The success of the campaign and current projections of planned campaigns, we expect to see a large lift in website traffic from our Pinterest ads as more resources are put into the social channel. We are also seeing the audience spend more time on the client’s website and converting on various products, which is in line with the experience of much larger advertisers. Pinterest advertising has a huge upside, especially as it introduces more ad products down the road (including video ads). Data will also continue to trickle down from large advertisers to those of various sizes as Pinterest opens the platform further. In the mean time, if you haven’t already signed up your Pinterest account up for Promoted Pins, you can do so here.

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Whenever I tell someone over the age of 30 what my job title is, their general reaction is usually one of disbelief. I am oftentimes met with questions like “Is that a real job?” or “Do you just ‘play’ on Facebook all day?” But, within our day and age, the burgeoning growth of social media cannot be ignored. In today’s digital-driven world, a Social Media Coordinator has become an integral role in many marketing and advertising agencies. Listed below are some of my main responsibilities as Penna Powers’ Social Media Content Coordinator.

First and foremost, Content Creation:

This is where all of my hard work taking advanced English and Writing courses over the past 8 years has really begun to pay off. Since I started here in November, I have been lucky enough to take over writing Twitter, Facebook and Instagram content for 2 accounts, fully immersing myself into the different ‘brand voices’ and subject matter that make these clients who they are. Holiday content has become my personal favorite, and I have been able to let my own voice shine through with, what I believe to be, relatable content.

Next, comes Scheduling:

After I, or my colleagues, write out our monthly content calendars (as discussed above), I schedule everything to send out to our clients’ social media channels. Over the past few months, Hootsuite has become my best friend. I can spend hours of my day plugging in links, captions and images that will magically send out to different channels at a date and time that I specify. Instagram’s new account switching function has been a lifesaver in keeping everything running smoothly.

Analyzing and Reporting:

Every week, after our content has had time to reach its intended audience, I take a look at several clients’ Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics to see what is working and what isn’t. After my Excel spreadsheets highlighting positives, neutrals and negatives are written, we are able to determine what kind of content is reaching the most people, the peak times of day and what we can be doing to continually improve.

Community Management:

After all of the above is said and done, I am able to take a step back and look at how our audiences are interacting with us as a whole. Are the discussions meaningful and reinforcing? Do we need to reconstruct? Are there any questions that we can answer?

On top of all of these responsibilities, one of my roles here at P2 has been to take over the title of co-‘Blog Manager’, which really goes hand in hand with my daily Coordinator duties: creating content, editing and scheduling out the content of others, reporting on monthly blog analytics and keeping everyone motivated and on schedule with their writing. In an ever-evolving digital world, I have been lucky enough to find myself as a part of the Penna Powers PR team, in a job that I love.

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Not too long ago, social media was looked at as the “thing” brands needed, but had no idea how to use. Fast forward to 2016, and we have 1.35 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 284 million on Twitter and don’t forget Instagram with another 300 million users. Social media is no longer on its own island. Instead, it is part of a unified content marketing strategy that tips traditional silos on their side in the name of a holistic inbound marketing strategy. As social media marketers, we are constantly seeking data in the name of ROI and to see where our own campaigns stack up in the crowded world of social promotion. The data below highlights something very important. Social media is not going anywhere.


2015 Social Media Advertising Highlights:

Social Media CPMs:

  • Facebook – $6.37 (Includes all Facebook ad placements)
  • Instagram – $5.86 (Includes all Instagram ad placements)
  • Twitter – $14.18 (Includes all Twitter ad placements)

Cost Per Engagement:

  • Facebook – $0.66
  • Instagram – $0.23
  • Twitter – $0.72

We’ve calculated the above CPM and CPE based off our own client’s data, showing a much more realistic expectation for campaigns with different targeting and audience parameters.

Moving into 2016, we expect to see a continued rise in Facebook advertising costs as inventories continue to shrink on the network. Q4 2015 was the first time ad inventory on the channel increased since 2013, with even larger percentages of ad budgets shifting to the channel. Facebook-owned Instagram will dive deeper into advertising with the launch of multiple account access and ad retargeting through Facebook, and vice versa. Finally, we expect Twitter to continue struggling overall, with the only upside being its event targeting, which we have seen success with around the Super Bowl and NFL playoffs. As a whole, social media advertising will see its share of media budgets increasing to 20% by 2017, as more ad products come online and video platforms such as Snapchat open their ad platform to the masses.

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We all know that Valentine’s Day is a “Hallmark holiday”, meaning that it is perceived to exist primarily for commercial purposes, rather than to commemorate a traditionally or historically significant event. And although it is a day designated to celebrate love (and actually does have some historical significance), it gets quite a bit of hate, especially online.

That being said, February 14th is still the third-highest grossing holiday when it comes to consumer spending. If you are curious, Christmas comes in first with over $600 billion in consumer spending, and Mother’s Day comes in second, barely beating Valentine’s Day with $19.9 billion. Although only 55% of Americans say they will celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, the average male will spend $190 on February 14th. When you compare that to the current average daily spend for American consumers of $81 per day, it is no wonder that companies are willing to shell out the funds for a Valentine’s themed campaign.


When it comes to Valentine’s Day campaigns, there are a few factors that brands have to consider:

  1. Men are going to spend the most, but the day is also very important to women. So how do you reach both audiences with a message that will leave an impression?
  2. There are hundreds of other companies who are also trying to get their message out on Valentine’s Day. How do you create a campaign that will break through the clutter?
  3. Often, Valentine’s Day ads have to compete with one of the most ad-happy events of the year – the Super Bowl. So your TV spots are going to be competing with some of the most creative, well produced spots of the year.

Check out these spots from this year’s set of Valentine’s Day campaigns. You will see that some brands clearly targeted men with weird, off-beat comedy. Some attempted to break through the clutter by pulling at your heartstrings, or by being a little provocative. Others tried to stand out by tying into the Super Bowl.

A day to celebrate love or a day made up for commercial purposes, either way you look at it, there are $19.7 billion in consumer spending at stake here, and it would be a shame for retail brands not to take advantage of Valentine’s Day.

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Many government entities buy digital media to reach their target audiences. We’ve aggregated our data to calculate industry benchmarks to help our clients know what to expect in terms of performance.

Type Industry Benchmark Government Benchmark Notes
Programmatic Banner Ads 0.08% CTR 0.13% CTR We typically see an inverse relationship between CTR and conversion rate, so the higher the CTR, the lower the conversion rate
Site-Direct Banner Ads 0.10% CTR 0.18% CTR Although we typically see higher CTRs buying site direct, the tradeoff for the higher price is typically unwarranted
Programmatic Mobile Ads 0.15% CTR 0.23% CTR Larger units such as 320×480 average much higher CTRs
Site-Direct Mobile Ads 0.15% CTR 0.32% CTR Usually, these mobile banners run as part of a site takeover
Mobile Video 69% Completion Rate 74% Completion Rate Completion rate significantly higher for 15-second versions over 30-second versions
Desktop Video 72% Completion Rate 80% Completion Rate Completion rate significantly higher for 15-second versions over 30-second versions
Viewability 52% Viewability 70% Viewability Government campaigns should have the least tolerance for questionable content or bot traffic

Why Not Conversions?

It should be noted that the objectives of many of these campaigns are to increase awareness (e.g. awareness of the dangers of texting and driving), as well as have a measurable goal (e.g. pledges to not drive distracted). Because the goal differs on each campaign, click-through rate, completion rate and other metrics are used in lieu of conversion rate for standardization purposes.

Why the Better Performance? 

These digital government benchmarks are useful to know before planning and buying digital media. Government campaigns usually outperform typical ad placements because they are (a) not selling anything and (b) have a clear message. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when one sees a government campaign outperforming a retail campaign. Also, it should be noted that government campaigns are usually very targeted. To stick with the texting and driving example, ads are typically targeted to adults ages 18-34 who are heavy phone users. If it were a mobile campaign, it could be further targeted to the demographic who are using their phones in a moving vehicle. The increased relevance increases the performance.

What Types of Government Campaigns does this Include?

These digital benchmarks include transportation safety, public health campaigns, environmental campaigns, and safety campaigns. These are generally state-specific, for example: a texting and driving campaign in Utah. The Penna Powers team loves working on these campaigns and measuring their results.

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Having directed countless commercials over many years, I’ve always anticipated seeing what commercials run during the Super Bowl. This year, however, I was more excited than normal… I was able to actually attend Super Bowl 50 with my son, Mike. Of course, this meant I was going to miss watching the good & bad commercials during the game (or so I thought). But, thanks to Levi’s Stadium’s state-of-the-art arena and the Super Bowl stadium app, I was able to experience something much better.

Super Bowl Stadium App

A screenshot of the Super Bowl Stadium App

The Super Bowl stadium app, combined with the cutting edge arena, was astonishing. Not only did it let me view commercials during game breaks and timeouts, but it also let me order food right from my seat. Instead of waiting in long lines, I was able to walk up to the express lane and pick up my food in under five minutes.

How did Levi’s Stadium pull off this high-tech experience? To start, the stadium relies on a rich technology/media infrastructure that includes 2,400 TV monitors, 600 security cameras, 370 point-of-sale terminals, 49 miles of beer-carrying pipes, in-stadium beacon devices and, as reported in The Guardian, “an enormous new fiber system to give it 40 times more internet bandwidth capacity than any known U.S. stadium.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, the Super Bowl and the commercials are always fun to watch. But for me, the high-tech stadium truly added to my Super Bowl experience.

To learn more about Levi’s Stadium, check out this article written by Ad Age.

Chuck Penna Superbowl

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In case you haven’t existed in the last decade, let me fill you in on the current technological landscape: Touchscreens. Touchscreens are everywhere.

Not only do 80% of people between ages 18 and 50 have touchscreen phones in their pockets, but over 50% of American households own at least one larger touch screen, like a tablet. While some people are wary of that this over-saturation of smart devices, the proliferation of powerful electronics certainly has its upsides. Not only are touch screens fun to use, but they add a level of natural interactivity that even toddlers can understand. That being said, there is one glaring issue I have with touchscreens: I have to touch them.

You see, while using your finger to interact with a screen has many advantages, as DNA analysts have been proving for years, your fingers are very good at leaving evidence behind. On your touch screen, this means that after almost any period of use you will undoubtedly notice fingerprints, smudges and other unsightly, oily leftovers from your skin. It’s unavoidable. Our fingers just aren’t that clean. But do not fret, there is a solution out there for every smudge-fearing American.

It’s called a stylus, and early applications of the technology can be seen as far back as the 50s. With the recent influx of touch devices, however, styluses have really come into their own as a product for the masses. Outside of just reducing smudges on your screen, styluses also allow for greater accuracy on your touch device (fingers are far too sloppy).

But of course, as it always is, not all styluses are created equal. This post is a stylus breakdown, covering some general options to consider as well as some thoughts on a few brand name styluses you may encounter. I should also mention that this stylus guide will not address digitizers, but you can learn more about some top options here. 

#1 THE BASIC RUBBER STYLUSbasic rubber stylus 2

If your only concern is that you don’t want to dirty your screen with your fingers, then this might be the right stylus for you. Sure, you won’t see improved accuracy with this sort of stylus, it will wear out comparatively quickly and it will often require increased pressure to register input on your device, but it will get the job done.

There aren’t many prominent brands that offer a basic rubber stylus, but you can find off-brand options for as little as $5. Many of them even come as part of a poorly-made ballpoint pen combo. Alas, the biggest (and/or only?) advantage of this stylus type is its price. I own and have tried several different styluses that fit into this category and, for the most part, I wouldn’t recommend them. While the price tag is enticing, you get what you pay for. That being said, there is one exception for the budget-minded stylus aficionado: AmazonBasics.

AmazonBasics is the brand name for products produced by Amazon (shocking, I know). The products typically have no frills or thrills, but are well made, perform adequately and come at a reduced cost. If you’re going to get a basic rubber stylus, go with the AmazonBasics Executive line.


Similar to the basic rubber stylus, the basic microfiber stylus comes in all shapes and sizes from hundreds of brands you’ve never heard of. The microfiber stylus not only lasts longer than its rubber counterpart, it is also a much more consistent experience. You won’t often find yourself pushing hard to get the stylus to register on your touch device, though you will still experience accuracy issues similar to the rubber stylus.

While not all microfiber styluses come with replaceable tips, this is another advantage you’ll find when looking into microfiber options. And don’t worry, they also come with all of the “bells and whistles” you might find on a rubber stylus (including poorly made pen combinations, keychain variations and even options that double as a laser pointer). The microfiber stylus, while not perfect, is superior in every way to the basic rubber stylus.

I’ve used many different microfiber styluses and found that for general touchscreen use, they are more than adequate. Typically they are slightly more expensive, ranging in cost from $5 to $10, but the extra dollar is well worth the higher quality. Don’t get me wrong, you still won’t be able to do any sketching or serious drawing with this kind of stylus, but it will satisfy most consumers. Furthermore, while most pens that double as a stylus are simply terrible, one exception has become a long time favorite of mine. The ButterFox Micro-Knit Fabric Tip Capacitive Touch Screen Stylus Pen comes in a small casing but offers an excellent pen and stylus experience.

If you’re not interested in that recommendation, I’d try checking out Lynktec. They sell various precision microfiber styluses that function admirably.


Adonit produces many different styluses, but they are most well known for their Jot Pro. The unique stylus design utilizes a clear, rubber disc to mimic your finger, but a narrow point to replicate the feeling of writing with a pen. The result is rather surprising. With the Adonit Jot Pro, I’ve found that I get far better accuracy and I generally don’t have to push as hard to register my input. The disadvantage to the Adonit brand, however, is durability. While the rubber discs last just fine, the connector between the pen tip and the disc is flimsy at best. In other words: It will break and you will lose the rubber disc.

This isn’t a huge problem as replacement discs aren’t hard to come by, but it can be something to consider. This is the first stylus that you might be able to get away with for sketching or drawing (emphasis on ‘might’).

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the Adonit Jot Pro, I would recommend the brand “Meko.” While you probably haven’t heard of them, they will show up a fair bit if you start searching around for styluses. For the same price as the Adonit Jot Pro, you can get two combo-Meko styluses that come with both the clear rubber disc style and microfiber style tips. The package also comes with four replacement discs and two replacements for the microfiber tip. In terms of quality, the stylus is top-notch (one of my personal favorites), and you can’t beat the value for the price.

If you’re looking for a stylus option that works with your Android device, the Adonit Jot Pro (or Meko stylus I recommended) is probably as good as you’re going to find. Unfortunately there just aren’t a lot of Android-specific options available (and the few that exist are sub-par at best). The remaining items you find on my list will only be loosely compaitble with Android, so be aware.

If you really want to couple a great stylus experience with an Android tablet, I’d recommend looking into Android tablets that come with their own manufactured stylus (maybe try the Samsung Note Pro tablet or the Nvidia Shield). There’s also this $70 option, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Edit 1: Adonit sells other stylus lines that, while I haven’t tested myself, are probably worth checking out.

Edit 2: As Bill Kraksi pointed out in the comments below, when the Adonit first released the Jot Pro there were complaints that the rigid disc attachment was scratching screens. DAGI sold a competing stylus that utilized a flexible spring to avoid causing scratches. I personally have never used a DAGI stylus and never had an Adonit stylus scratch my screen, but if you are worried about something like that happening, be sure to check out some DAGI styluses.


The Pencil by FiftyThree is the first stylus that works in conjunction with Bluetooth (often called an “Active Stylus”). The stylus is designed to work on Apple touch devices (though it will technically work on any capacitive screen) with FiftyThree’s popular “Paper” app. Within that specific scenario, the Pencil works pretty darn well. In fact, it was specifically designed to be a sketch/drawing stylus, and it performs better than most other styluses at doing that (again, within the paper app).

Within the paper app (have I said that enough times yet?) you can even turn the Pencil around and use the back end as an eraser. Furthermore, because the stylus can connect to your device via Bluetooth, any accidental inputs from your hand are ignored. In other words, you can write with your hand on the screen without any issue. This is often referred to as a “palm rejection” and comes standard on most Bluetooth-enabled (“Active”) styluses.

The main disadvantage to the Pencil however, is its durability. The rubber tip seems to wear thin very quickly. While you are given a replacement tip when you purchase the stylus, I found that I wore both out while some of my other, cheaper styluses were still kicking. Couple this with the fact that the Pencil by FiftyThree really works best with only Apple devices, and you can see why it isn’t the best choice for everyone. Oh, and did I mention that this stylus costs around $50? Yeah, we’re moving into expensive territory.


I’m including this in my list, though realistically I probably shouldn’t. While all reports have shown that the Apple Pencil is, absolutely, an incredible stylus (haven’t tested it much myself), it only operates on a single device, the iPad Pro. As such, I can’t really recommend this to anyone unless they are specifically in the market for the iPad Pro.

Additionally, this battery powered active stylus can only be charged via the lightning port of an iPad Pro. Apple claims a 15-second charge will give you 30-minutes of juice, so maybe this isn’t a big deal. Either way, the Apple Pencil’s biggest con is that it costs $100. Yep, that’s a hefty price to pay for just a stylus (but again, all reports show that the Apple Pencil really is top notch).

For those looking for a decent active stylus for iPads that won’t break the bank, Wacom offers several iPad specific styluses at its store. I haven’t tested any of these unfortunately, so you’ll have to either trust reviews or rely on personal trial and error.

#6 THE ADOBE INK AND SLIDEScreen Shot 2016-01-27 at 5.10.35 PM

The Adobe Ink and Slide is a pretty incredible set of two devices. That’s right, this stylus actually comes with a second device that operates as a straight edge (among other things). This iOS exclusive (yet again) is an active stylus that works within Adobe’s own Line and Sketch mobile apps and across any recent iOS device. It’s pretty remarkable all the fun things the two companion devices can do together ( watch this video to learn more). I would say that while the input recognition has a little bit of latency, the accuracy of the Ink, as well as the bonus functionality of the Slide, are unrivaled in the stylus world.  

Another thing that’s unrivaled with this stylus? Its price. Costing a steep $200, the Ink and Slide don’t jump out as the most appealing option right away, but its unique Slide mechanics may make it the perfect choice for industrial designers or artists who require a little extra precision (especially with shapes). 


There are so many active styluses for touch-enabled Windows machines that I don’t even know where to start. I’ve personally used several (the stylus that comes with the Microsoft Surface 3, an HP produced stylus and a few Wacom styluses throughout the years), but I haven’t even come close to testing a fraction of them.

All I can say is, when it comes to Windows 10 active styluses, it’s important to realize that no two styluses are the same. In fact, no active stylus will work across all Windows 10 devices (though some work across a myriad of them). For example, the stylus that comes standard when you purchase a Windows Surface will only work with Surface devices.

Furthermore, these styluses are more expensive, ranging from $30 – $80. Again, like the Apple Pencil, I can’t really recommend it for everyone. But under certain circumstances, a Windows active stylus can be the perfect fit. From my experience, I love using my HP Stylus to take notes or sketch things out (I’m no artist, but it’s still fun). I have found most active styluses to be relatively lag free, extremely accurate and easy to use, at least, within drawing or note-taking apps. The thing about all Windows-ready active styluses is that they’re really only meant for drawing or taking notes.

Here’s what I mean: A Windows 10 stylus registers on your computer completely differently from your finger. When you use your finger, your machine intuitively understands that a swipe up should scroll down a page. Most styluses mimic this interaction. With a Windows active stylus, however, this intuitive communication doesn’t exist. Instead, your computer interprets your stylus movement as mouse movement. For example, if you’re trying to browse the web with an active stylus, you have to actually grab the scroll bar on the right side of your browser and move it up or down. In my experience, this makes for a very unpleasant experience (and the same goes for a stylus that uses a digitizer).

With all of that being said, I do think it can be worth it to purchase an active stylus. They really are wonderful for drawing, sketching and taking notes. The only caveat is that you’ll have to do some research to find out what stylus will work with your computer. If you have a Windows machine, check out your manufacturer’s website to see if any active stylus options are available. Otherwise, Wacom and N-Trig are good places to start researching. Finally, other capacitive/active combination styluses might be worth a try as well (like this one), or maybe a digitizer is the option you are looking for.


For browsing the web and general use, try a Meko stylus like this one. It will provide flexibility and cover almost all of your needs.

If you want to actually draw and sketch on your touch-enabled device, you’re going to have to do some research and find what stylus actually works for your device. On iOS I’d start looking at the Pencil by FiftyThree. On Windows, I’d start by looking at your device manufacturer’s website (or maybe Wacom). For Android, you might want to just look into buying one of Samsung’s Galaxy Note devices.

Here is an awesome chart with an in-depth stylus breakdown:Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.35.41 AM Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.35.29 AM


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Is the student ‘very interested’ or ‘fascinated’?iStock_000068846113_Medium

Do you prefer being described as ‘very smart’ or ‘brilliant’?

Is the celebrity ‘very attractive’ or ‘pulchritudinous?

Don’t worry, I had to look it up too. But I wanted to prove a point. This point: The English language holds a flood of wildy descriptive words, ripe for the choosing. Nothing should be ‘very scary’ when there’s ‘alarming’, ‘chilling’, ‘horrifying’, ‘spine-curling’, ‘hair raising’, ‘bloodcurdling’ … the list goes on.

‘Very’ does nothing to support your writing, rather, ‘very’ subverts it. None of us are perfect. I’m the first to admit ‘very’ sometimes feels right. When that happens, let’s apply the following:

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” — Mark Twain

Got it? ‘Damn’ good.

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