Do Better Writing

Why You’re Not Grabbing Your Reader’s Attention

The nuance of selecting the right word

“See, the best interpreters are part linguists, part diplomats. They have to know the politics behind each word,” Danny Hajek, National Public Radio reporter.
2

Try to put yourself in the shoes of a prospective customer.

How do you want him to feel when he visits and reads the copy on your website? Like you’re speaking directly to him? So he feels like you understand him, can relate to his concerns and have the knowledge to solve his problems?

Do you want him to think, “These people get me!”

Many writers inadvertently fail to foster these feelings online with a prospective customer. Let me explain the three reasons why and how you can fix it. Continue reading Why You’re Not Grabbing Your Reader’s Attention

Search 10x Faster in Google

magnifying glass

I watched a movie recently about Saroo Brierly, a boy from India who fell asleep and rode on a train 1,000 miles from his home. When Saroo got off the train, he was lost. Only five years old, Saroo found himself in another part of India where a different language is spoken. He also did not know the correct name of his hometown, and encumbered with language barriers, could not return home.

It’s an astonishing tale and one I can’t keep thinking about.

Saroo wrote about his journey from India to an orphanage, then to adoption in Tasmania and eventually his quest, 25 years later, to seek his family in India. The book, A Long Way Home, inspired the movie, Lion, and earned six Oscar nominations.

Here’s a Google Earth: Saroo’s Search video describing his fascinating journey. (Spoiler alert: Stop the video at the 1:30 minute mark if you don’t want to know the ending and prefer to watch the movie or read his book first.)

Saroo’s story also inspired me to share some tips on how to get the information you want faster in Google Search. Let’s be more savvy in our searching, shall we?

1. Simple works best

In Google search, one or two word search terms will usually give you the broadest results. Start with short search terms, then refine your results by adding more words.

Example: sunflowers Continue reading Search 10x Faster in Google

Creating a Picture in Your Reader’s Mind = More Memorable Content

Paint and paint brushesWhen I rewrite my drafts, sometimes I get impatient. I cross out filler words and clichés and still, the content is blah. The words I use are so boring that I’m easily distracted by our family cat, Coco, or the contractors pounding on the roof shingles of my neighbor’s house across the street. (Do they need to pound at 8 o’clock in the morning?)

As writers, what can we do to engage our readers, even if the readers are ourselves? Here’s one easy trick to make your content and my content more memorable. You already know this powerful editing tip, but do you use it regularly? Continue reading Creating a Picture in Your Reader’s Mind = More Memorable Content

The Three Actions You Need to Take to be an Effective Content Marketing Team of One

439H (1)

I admit it. Business-to-business and healthcare companies who only have one or two people responsible for content marketing is a boon for me. It’s true. Small teams need, hire and value freelance copywriters. But it’s also true that I hate seeing clients run themselves ragged trying to keep up “feeding the content marketing machine.”

So consider doing these actions if you or you and one other person are responsible for creating content in your organization. Continue reading The Three Actions You Need to Take to be an Effective Content Marketing Team of One

How to Blog Consistently: Create a Blogging Habit

How’s your blog doing?

Remember in high school when the cheerleaders would spell the letters out loud for the word CONFIDENCE to the crowd? They’d yell “C-O-N … F-I-D … C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-Eeeeeeee!” The cheerleaders wanted people in the stands to join in the chant and encourage their team to victory.

For blogging, I think the word we need to pay attention to is C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-C-Y.

If your company has a blog, and you’re not publishing consistently, then you’re probably:

  • Losing followers.
  • Missing new leads.
  • Losing online authority.
  • And your website may be penalized by search engines, including Google, for the lack of fresh content.

Maybe you’re feeling a little regret. A year is almost done and your company has missed the lead generation gusto a regularly published blog can bring.

Do you want a different result next year? Continue reading How to Blog Consistently: Create a Blogging Habit

Read This if You Take Writing Seriously

Shannan with Ann Handley2
My picture with Ann Handley, after her presentation at Content Marketing World 2017

Were you assigned to write a blog post that’s due next week? Oh, horror of horrors! Are you worried about starting with a blank page? Do you dread writing a story from scratch?

Every bit of writing in marketing has an objective. And that can be worrisome if you don’t know your objective. If you think the words matter, then you take writing seriously. So if you’re in this camp, you may want to keep reading.

I’m sharing some pointers from Ann Handley’s presentation at Content Marketing World 2017  – Writing Secrets from Productive and Prolific Writers (the Jerks!): How to Create Better Content When No One Has Enough Time.

Her advice just might boost your writing today.  Continue reading Read This if You Take Writing Seriously

We’re more likely to act now if a party is in our future

How about this news bit? Some of us are planning ahead. I listened to the news today and learned 76 trees are being planted in Philadelphia’s Independent National Historic Park to be mature by the nation’s sestercentennial. By the way, I had to look up what “sestercentennial” means. It’s the 250th year of United States of America’s independence.

The birthday date is July 4, 2026. Doesn’t that seem like a long time from now? But yet it’s less than nine years away.

The Daughters of the American Revolution have donated the cost of $380,000 to plant the trees over several years. Hooray to people thinking and taking action for the long term. I applaud you. Of course, the critics say the trees needed to be planted 20 years ago to make a significant presence. Oh, well, there will always be fault-finders among us.

Just wondering …

Could this be a nudge for us to invest in our professional development now so we can enjoy a celebration of opportunity later? And strengthen our independence?

Why Defining a Strategy and Not Wavering Works

At Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Amanda Todorovich gave a talk – How to Build a Killer Content Marketing Strategy – on Cleveland Clinic’s effort to grow an audience for the organization’s Health Essentials newsletter.

Todorovich, director of content marketing, manages a team of writers, designers, digital engagement strategists and project managers. Her team is responsible for the #1 most-visited hospital blog in the country.

The newsletter started at 0 visits and grew to 5 million visits per month in October this year.

I was inspired listening to her talk. She does not minimize the effort required or the mistakes made along the way. You hear about the trial and error. Her presentation shows the possibility of building an audience in a highly regulated field. Health Essentials is a living example of what happens when you do the work, persist and continue to do the work. Eventually, you will earn good results.

So how did she and her team reach this readership? Continue reading Why Defining a Strategy and Not Wavering Works

No One has Time to Read Ambiguous Messages, so Get to the Point

1448178195_5780cfd315_o.jpg
Photo Credit: “Point!” © 2007 a2gemma, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

BEEP! A notification chirps from your smartphone. You pull the phone out of your pocket, wipe your fingers on your cotton jeans and swipe the smooth screen to unlock. Tapping open the email app, then …

BANG!

BOOM!

CRASH!

The emails clamor in your inbox. Each email is screaming at you. Look at me! Look at me! Read this now. Do this now. Emails are reminders of your unfinished tasks.

And your inbox is bursting. Continuously flooding with messages, the inbox is a cacophony that will never be silent.

When you acquiesce and scan the first email, trying to understand the long message on the little screen, do you wish the sender had written more words?

Probably not. You wanted the writer to be brief, concise and clear. Please get to the point, you beg.

If this is what you want, imagine what your client is thinking. Continue reading No One has Time to Read Ambiguous Messages, so Get to the Point

Three Confidence-Boosting Ways to Prepare for Your Next Conference

22776358511_bcf3178ab6_o.jpg

Photo Credit: “Conference Center”, © 2015 Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine, Flickr | PD-CC0 | via Wylio

It’s coming! It’s coming! It’s coming!

As I’m looking ahead on my calendar, I see a big date approaching in September. I’m attending the Content World Conference and Expo in Cleveland, Ohio. It’ll be a first for me. If you’re into marketing, the annual event is considered the place “where you can learn and network with the best and the brightest in the content marketing industry.”

I’m a little excited.

Okay, I fibbed. I’m a lot excited.

Why? Because there will be plenty of good information shared, people to meet, knowledge to learn, potential clients to get to know, skills to develop … and I won’t be responsible for making dinner for a week. 🙂

Hey, this is a big deal. It’s the first professional multi-day convention I’ve attended in 13 years. What a tremendous opportunity!

“You’re going to sleep away conference-camp,” my youngest daughter said. (She experienced her first “sleep away” camp this summer.) It’s not exactly camp. I won’t be roughing it in a cabin, devoid of air-conditioning and electronics for a week. 🙂

But wait a minute. The events are similar.

I will be away from home. I’ll be outside of my comfort zone. Instead of nature, I will be immersed in marketing, writing and people – all topics I love. And with the money invested, I want to get the most out of it.

So I’ve taken logical steps: registered, arranged for hotel reservations and transportation, and signed up for the workshops. I’ve decided what to pack — I’m the queen of lists — and I started home preparations so my family survives 🙂 just fine while I’m gone.

Maybe you’re not as enthused about attending a conference as I am. But meetings and events are ubiquitous, aren’t they? Eventually, we are all bound to attend one.

Here are three ways to boost your confidence before you leave for your next conference: Continue reading Three Confidence-Boosting Ways to Prepare for Your Next Conference