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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

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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.

Examples

  • 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.

 

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