Writing for the Internet

A while ago I wrote an article on the reasons why more business people are needing written content these days but it wasn’t used at the time.   I’d obviously prefer you to hire Allan Jackson Communications if you need something written for your business but I have outlined some things to look out for if you’re determined to go it alone:

Writing for publication was usually left to professionals in the days before the web became so much a part of our lives.

There weren’t, in fact, that many chances to be published. Most marketing was done in the form of advertising in the media including magazines and newspapers. Some businesses ran PR campaigns to get free publicity but that was usually outsourced. This was because creating content to publicise a business while still being acceptable to the news publications was a pretty skilled occupation.

Business people had little need to write to support their marketing efforts. The situation was turned on its head, however, when Internet marketing took off and everyone became publishers.

Businesses wanted to be found when the public used a search engine to look for products and services. The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker suddenly needed content, fired up MS Word and started to churn out words.

Then a new problem arose when the search engines began to change the way they ranked sites. At first they had given priority to sites which had good keywords in their HTML code so the text content of the site was often overlooked.

Read moreWriting for the Internet


Writing a book for business: Part II

Publishing your business book - Feature image

Last time I discussed some things to bear in mind when embarking on writing and publishing your business book because you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you get the basics right. I covered talking to your printer before doing anything else and not trying to write and layout at the same time.

Using styles

I also introduced the idea of using your wordprocessor’s styles feature to apply formatting to text instead of instead of changing font or size from the menu. It’s easy to change the appearance of your document by altering the style definition and not having to search for every instance of formatting. It will also help whoever is laying out your masterpiece and minimise the time they spend importing and formatting the content. Styles also make it much quicker and easier to generate tables of contents.

There are a number of built-in styles in MS Word. Here are a few suggestions about ones you can use:

  • Heading 1 – chapter headings
  • Heading 2 – sub-headings
  • Emphasis – italics
  • Strong – Bold

Read moreWriting a book for business: Part II


Writing a book for business: Part I

Writing a book for business - Part 1 - Feature image

Only a small number of authors ever manage to make a living writing but producing a book is still a good idea for many business people. That is because writing a book for business is a great way to publicise yourself if intellectual property is your stock in trade.

Add value to courses and lectures by selling your book or even giving it away. Only a tiny minority ever get as far as writing a book and it really impresses people when you show them the freshly printed fruits of your genius and it convinces them you know what you’re talking about. I experienced this after I wrote a book of historical snippets about Durban, my former hometown.

There was zero interest in me and my project while I talked the talk but that all changed as soon as I had a manuscript to show. The City Council took an interest and pre-ordered copies which paid for the printing. Community groups began to approach me to speak at their meetings when the book hit the streets; I became an authority overnight.

Read moreWriting a book for business: Part I


Death of print ‘greatly exaggerated’

Post feature image

Many owners and managers of small and medium-sized business have heard that print is dead and don’t even consider using it as part of their marketing mix.

Mark Twain once wrote that the reports of his death were greatly exaggerated and the same is true of print and other technologies. Remember all the panic and confusion in the music industry after digital downloads became the most popular way of getting new music?

The last rites were read for vinyl records after almost everyone agreed they had passed their sell-by-date. But a funny thing happened on the way to the funeral because vinyl refused to be buried.

Read moreDeath of print ‘greatly exaggerated’


Including all the facts

Header image for 5Ws blog post.

One of the most important things to remember when communicating in writing is that you won’t be around when your audience sits down and tries to make sense of what you’ve written. You therefore need to write simply and clearly and be careful to answer all the questions that your readers are likely to want to know the answers to.

Anticipating those is pretty easy if you take a leaf out of the reporters’ handbook and include the 5Ws in any informative writing that you do. As a junior reporter I was introduced to them and taught to check my writing to make sure they were all included before hitting the send button on any story I wrote.

So what are the 5Ws? They are What, Why, Where, When and Who and can be applied to any situation. For example:

Read moreIncluding all the facts


Language matters # 2


Getting apostrophes right is not hard when you remember they are used to indicate possession or there are letters missing in a word. This week I saw:

… you’re brother …

Your is one of those words that indicates possession and doesn’t take an apostrophe. The apostrophe indicates there are missing letters so that you’re means ‘you are’ which is clearly wrong in that context.

See my presentation on Slideshare with more info on using apostrophes.



Language matters # 1

One very common writing mistake is the incorrect use of words and I will be drawing attention to some I notice. This week’s misused words are:

 compliment & complement

If there is a pli in the word it means there is no cost for something or that praise is being given. If there is a ple the word refers to things that complete each other.


  • Jane complimented me on my writing and handed me a voucher for a complimentary meal.
  • Bob and Jane complemented each other perfectly and made a lovely couple.



The responsive web**

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about websites and their content and have begun to think about a checklist of things one really needs to consider as a site owner or as someone planning to launch a new site. Two of the most important are how quickly the site loads and how it looks to the visitor, no matter where they access it from and what device they use.

Read moreThe responsive web**


Knowledge obsolesence

And a free skills upgrade for Queenslanders

Links in chain of learning.
Links in the chain of learning.

There was a time when the knowledge you gained at the beginning of your career would more or less serve for your entire working life. These days things move so fast that some or all of what you know can become obsolete overnight.

This was rammed home forcefully late last year when my position was made redundant and I decided to use some of the spare time I gained to polish my skills. My main focus has always been content creation but I have had a sideline in developing, maintaining and hosting websites since the early 1990s. I therefore decided I would take a course or two on the subject and was amazed at how much had changed while I wasn’t looking.

Read moreKnowledge obsolesence