Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Don't like to write or type? Try dictation

Because my thumbs are slackers, I dictate most of my text messages (which is why they have so many errors...that's my story, anyway).

Having talked to my phone for so long, I'm starting to talk to my computer, too. I've resisted for years, saying I type faster than I speak. Maybe I'm coming around, or dictation is getting better, or both. Whatever. File under, 'old dog learns new trick.'

Now, I'd love to post a catch-all link so if you would like to use dictation but don't know how, you could find out what you need to know. But, like most things it's not standard; dictation is a piece of cake in some programs, and a pain in the patootie in others. No matter, really - you can probably just ask your phone how to do it.

Bonus: Another reason voice recognition is so nice for writers: if it doesn't sound right when you say it out loud, it probably won't be right when your readers see it.

(You always get your money's worth when you read this blog, don'tcha?)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Paws to Write! Children's Poetry Contest

Got kids?
Got kids who write poetry?
Or, need an excuse to get 'em to try?

Here ya' go:

The deadline for the annual Pets Add Life Children's Poetry Contest - for kids in grades 3 - 8 - is January 15. So don't paws for too long before you send in those entries!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

What to Blog about Now? Get personal

Corporate blogging is so much fun! Said very few people, ever. 

I am one of those people, however. I love to blog about and to business folks. Industrial flooring, medical procedures, business signage materials, camp administration, customer service, electronic test equipment - been there, done that. 

Having a product, a process or a promotion to talk about makes choosing a topic for your blog easy. But planning the occasional change-up post is smart; it will add interest to your blog. 

Why Get Personal in a Business Blog?

Because people run businesses. And people buy from people. 

Especially if your usual blog fodder is dry-as-toast business-to-business stuff, a personal story or anecdote can help bring your business to life for prospects and existing customers alike. 

Also, people are more apt to continue to do business with people they feel like they know, even if it's "just" an online relationship. (It's 2015. If you're still discounting online relationships, maybe you should review the science behind them.)

You might answer "what should I blog about next?" by asking yourself, what do I like to do when I'm not working? Do you coach basketball? Tie the most awesome fly-fishing knots? Volunteer at a pet shelter? It's OK to blog about it. It's even better if you can relate it to your business somehow. And, good news: that's not hard.

Consider why you do what you do (outside of work), and chances are you'll find it enhances your health and well-being, helps others, and/or boosts your creativity. Any and all of those notions are great nuggets to include in your blog.

Happy writing!

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Running out of blog ideas? Want help with your editorial calendar, or someone to ghost blog so you don't have to write at all? I can do that

Monday, November 17, 2014

5 questions to expect from a freelance copywriter

Wouldn't it be nice if freelance or contract writers were mind-readers? Sorry, here in the real world, most aren't. To avoid hassles and get the results you want and need from a business copywriter (or just about any other contractor), make sure everyone involved has a clear understanding of the project.

When I start a new project, these five questions are among the first I ask:

1. Who is this directed to? who else might read it?

This helps define your audience and target the message

2. Why are you talking/writing to them?

And why might they listen?  The answer is usually your goal; e.g., "We want them to buy tires during the sale! Tires are half off, so they can buy 4 tires for the price of 2!" The answer is rarely so obvious - which makes the question all that much more important. 

3. What do you want them to do?

Call us for a quote. Buy 4 tires before December 1st. Break your contract and sign ours. Pay on time. Whatever it is, your writer needs to know the end goal. As clearly as you can possibly state it. 

4. When do you need this (from me, the contractor)?
Because deadlines are when things get done.

5. How do you want it?

Do you expect a Word .doc, a .pdf? What about images? Would you rather just see copy emailed in the body of a message, or should it be tied up with a bow? If you have a style guide, by all means, share it with your copywriter. 

Answering the five questions above usually takes less than 30 minutes, and on the average project, saves both you and your contractor, roughly speaking, about a gazillion hours.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Purple Haiku About Politics, Too?

Red and blue mix-up
Sangria-colored bruises
Can't ignore the stain.


This haiku was originally submitted to a Yahoo! voices haiku contest. I've archived several of my articles that were published by that Yahoo! channel (which was shuttered in July 2014). This was the only haiku I published there. I always thought it could be about politics as much as about the color purple. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Right Time to Write: NaNoWriMo

Have you heard about NaNoWriMo? November's annual words-fest is designed to encourage folks to write a novel in 30 days. There's an official website and registering gets you encouragement/nagging and the virtual company of a lot (a LOT) of other writers - and people with good intentions.

Great title; sorry- taken.

You're Ready to Write that Novel! 

Some eager folks insist you can show up November 1 with nary an idea 30 days later, you too will have a complete manuscript. I am not convinced. But I am an optimist, and I believe everyone has a novel inside, it's just a matter of (an almost indescribable amount of) dedication to get it on paper. Or hard drive.

Or Get Ready for NaNoWriMo

I like the approach suggested by Jennifer Mattern, business copywriter and head-honcho of the super-practical and useful site, All Indie Writers. Mattern says a little preparation goes a long way, and offers a host of helpful tools to give you an edge over all those just-show-up-and-write types. So, get ready and write - and you'll show them!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Content takes time - lots of time!

Nobody minding the store?
Raise your hand if your last blog post was more than a week ago. More than two weeks ago... more than a month ago?

Raise your hand if you've been looking into a company, interested enough to read the blog...only to lose confidence in said company when you see the last post was more than three months ago.

OK, now that EVERYONE has a hand or two up in the air, put 'em down.

Content creation takes time. Be realistic about managing your blog and 88 social media profiles. And if you think your time is better spent elsewhere - like running the company or managing the sales staff - you're probably right. So, hire a ghostwriter.

That is all. ;)