content marketing, copywriting, digital copywriting, technical writing, writing tips

Writing tips – how to master technical writing

Technical writing requires both an in depth understanding of technical concepts, combined with an ability to transform highly jargon ridden instruction into clear, concise and easy to read copy. As the world of content production changes, there is a growing demand for skilled technical writing across a range of industries. You want your content to exude authority and expertise, but, you still want people to understand it. The fact is, when you learn to create engaging technical content, you are gaining a better understanding of your product or service.

From our years working with technical wizards, engineering doctorates and mining authorities, we’ve picked up some tips for getting your technical writing right.

Identify your purpose

This may seem obvious to some, but it is surprising how many times people start rambling before they bed down what it is they want to say. Because technical writing requires such sophisticated knowledge and expertise, knowing your purpose becomes crucial. Technical experts often get caught up in the detail, the functionality or the system itself and consequently lose sight of what this content is meant to achieve.

Why are you creating this document? Where is it going? What do you want this document to achieve? At every stage of the writing process, come back to these questions and ensure that your content continues to address your overall purpose.

You’re the expert – your audience may not be (understand their level of knowledge)

Whether you’ve been creating compelling copy for 20 years, or you’ve never put pen to paper with any confidence, your audience is your number one priority. When you understand your audience, you can effectively cater your writing to meet their needs and capability. This is especially true for technical writing. Your content will often be filled with complicated explanations and functionality breakdowns and by knowing your audience, you can aptly adapt the level of explanation your content requires.

There is no doubt that you are the expert in your field. You need to understand the level of technical knowledge your audience has to ensure you are neither too simplistic nor too complicated.

Strip away that jargon and ambiguity

We often extol the virtues of stripping away your jargon to create effective content. No matter what you are talking about, getting caught up in the industry lingo will only serve to limit the value of your content. If you work in a technical industry, chances are, you’ve spent the better part of your career building your technical vocabulary and learning to understand the hundreds of complicated phrases and definitions that are specific to your industry.

Your audience will likely not have done the same thing. Where possible, simplify your language, and even adopt Plain English. Even other experts in your field will appreciate the clarity of your content.

Table it

Use visual representations to complement your explanations. Tables, charts and graphs can be an impactful way to illustrate your point and show your audience more clearly. You are likely dealing with highly convoluted concepts or practicality and it can be very easy to lose your audience as a consequence. Don’t put your audience to sleep with paragraph upon paragraph of heavy text. Don’t just tell them, show them.

Give credit where credit is due

It is critical that any technical writing you publish in your industry is referenced properly. Know where you got your information, and back it up wherever possible. There are two main reasons for this.

The first is that many incredibly hardworking experts spent a lot of time researching, studying or creating compelling information, and just as you deserve the credit for your hard work, so do they. Acknowledge, reference and credit your sources in a valid and tangible way – don’t throw to a Wikipedia link because you can’t be bothered to find the publication details of their book.

The second is purely self-satisfying. When you reference your sources properly in technical, as with academic writing, you are illustrating your knowledge, expertise and credibility. You will build trust and loyalty with your audience.

Give your content context

Many technical writers spend so much time explaining their concepts that they forget to give any context. Particularly when dealing with something that is highly confusing or convoluted, give an example. Show your audience a practical illustration of your explanation and you will find they connect with your content on a deeper level.

Ask for help

The interesting thing about technical writing is the added value of consulting both technical experts and objective communicators. You’ll naturally consult with other experts to ensure the technical specs are accurate. It is equally important with content, to engage a non-technical reviewer, writer or editor. Their objective eye can help pull out the salient points, clarify the complexities and check your overall language.

content marketing, content production, copywriting, digital copywriting, editing, storytelling, writing tips

Why should you invest in content marketing?

Whether you’re curating the best of the best or creating sassy, original and valuable content, content marketing is now a crucial part of any successful business. Sure, we’re peddling our own service here, but for good reason. Traditional advertising has transformed so significantly over the years that even advertising agencies have had to widen their own definitions of what is an ad. We know now that human beings connect to one another through storytelling. We are seduced by an emotive tale, sucked in by a controversial anecdote and sated by a juicy saga. We love the journey, and as it turns out, we want our service providers to take us on that journey before we are willing to part with our well-earned dollars.

What does content marketing even mean?

We are thrown so many buzzwords a business quarter, it can be a struggle to keep up. One minute you’re trying to prove your business cred by sprouting the latest word mash up, the next you are erasing any mention of the newly established pretention indicator from your communications. Those of you unfamiliar with the idea or practical realisation of content marketing might be wondering if this, too, is just a phase that is going to drain your bank with little or no return.

For those doubters out there, we hate (ok we kind of love) to burst your bubble, but this approach in some iteration or another is here to stay.

According to the Content Marketing Institute,

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Basically, it’s a way of taking your audience, clients, partners and customers on a journey through useful, insightful and engaging content.

I’ve been doing it old school for years, why change now?

You’ve followed the same tried and tested path for years. Why would you want to change your approach? Well, for starters, we the consumers, expect it. We don’t want promotions shoved in our face with nothing in return. We get bored when we realise we’ve been tricked or pushed into a sale. We want relationships and we want something from you in return. We want you to show us you’re invested in us. Content marketing is the way to show your investment, while simultaneously showing off your own skill and value in the market.

What will I get out of investing in content marketing?

When you show people you have something of value, they will invest in you. There are countless benefits to spending the time and money on creating and curating great content. We’ve plucked our top ten:

  • Position your brand as an expert/authority in your field
  • Increase your digital traffic
  • Boost your reputation
  • Help you reach a new and untapped audience
  • Give you insights into your audience
  • Reduce your costs (cheaper than any traditional methods)
  • Improve brand awareness
  • Often yields better results than traditional methods
  • Widen your sales pipeline
  • Develop genuine lasting relationships with your audience
  • Leads to audience/customer/partner trust and loyalty

Where do I begin?

The key to content marketing is getting it right for your brand and industry. Following a blind path set out by the thousands of ‘experts’ can often be more harmful than anything else. There is a lot of shoddy content flowing through our inboxes every day. Don’t create for the sake of creating.

Work out what you want to say and find the best channel through which to tell that story. Is it a blog, a video, a gallery? Is someone already saying it better than you could

Work out who you want to tell the story to. Who is your audience? Are they current clients, customers, potential partners? Understand your audience and your story will flow from there.

Work out a way you can be consistent. Is your chosen approach sustainable? If not, why not? What can you change to ensure that it is?

Do you need help? You are the expert in your industry, but you may be unsure how to communicate that knowledge. If you don’t have dedicated content experts on staff, invest in content experts who will get to know you, your brand and your ultimate message.

Content marketing can be a scary concept if you’re starting from scratch, but when you invest in great content, engaging stories and valuable assets, you’ll no doubt connect with your audience.

 

content marketing, content production, copywriting, digital copywriting, editing, research, storytelling, writing tips

Before you begin – top ten questions to ask yourself before you start creating content

We work with some of the most interesting professionals around Australia. Some are avid communicators, enthusiastic marketers and lovely storytellers. Some are clinical experts, with an awe-inspiring level of knowledge of their industry, who have no idea how to impart that knowledge. No matter who you are or what your piece of content is meant to achieve, we always, always, always implore you to prepare! Get to know your content before you create it. Below are the top ten questions we ask our clients at the beginning of every project. They’re a great way for you to get your head around your audience and your overall purpose – two things you need to create great content.

What is your service/product and what has changed?

We know you know who you are, but forcing yourself to put it into words will help guide you to be clear on your overall purpose.

How does this piece of content fit into your overall story?

Do you have a content strategy? Is this content to stand alone? Where and when will you publish or share this content? This can help to identify where you may have strategic gaps and inspire you to bed things down.

What is your purpose? Inform? Compel? Change views?

Know and understand from the outset what you want from your content. If it’s just to inform, why have you chosen the platform you have. If it’s to compel action, what is that action and how will the platform you’ve chosen help this along?

Who is your audience/potential audience?

Get to know your audience as well as you can. Who are they? What drives them? How will your content add value to them?

Does your audience have an intimate understanding of who you are and your offering?

For those in a business or technical environment, this question is key. How much does your audience know about your offering? What is their technical knowledge and capability? Knowing this will help you pitch your language at the right level.

What does your audience currently think of your business and what do you want them to think?

Knowing where your audience stands and comparing it to where you want them to stand is a great way to give your purpose context.

What are three things you want your audience to take away? Call to action

Summarising your content down to three points will help you define and refine your purpose and get clarity on your call to action.

What is the tone of your content? Friendly? Casual? Technical? Formal?

Does your brand have a style guide? If not, do you know the kind of tone you want? It’s important to find that tone before you begin because it will inform how you communicate your message.

If you could describe your offering in three words what would they be?

This is another great way to help you refine your message.

What has been successful/a disaster in the past and how does this content reflect that?

It’s incredibly valuable to understand your past successes and failures in communication. What content has resonated with your audience and why? How are you adapting your current content to continue this relationship?

Answering these questions can help give your content structure, shape and purpose. When you combine this with great storytelling, you can develop compelling content.

 

content marketing, copywriting, digital copywriting, editing, freelancing, invoicing, research, sub-editing

Re-introducing – Make it Peachy

The last couple of months has been both exciting and mildly terrifying. Where once upon a time, it was just little old me, Peach, out in the desolate land of freelancing, fending for myself, I’ve made some pretty significant changes. My exquisitely talented husband Jeremy (who hails from years banging the business development drum) has come on board to help me turn Make it Peachy into a business we can be even more proud of.

Country copywriters with the city smarts

After years happily ensconced in the hamster wheel of city life, we have made the bold choice to step away. Not from the service, expertise or clients – our city based clients are some of our most loyal and down to earth. Rather away from the sea of inauthentic pretension that sometimes seeps in.

We have moved ourselves and our little business headquarters to the country. Reflecting the relaxed, beautiful and grounded atmosphere down here, we want our clients and future clients that we are the real deal. We want to get to know you and your brand and we want you to feel comfortable and confident in our relationship.

Just don’t mistake our authentic approach as out of touch or soft. We have the skill, the know-how and the spunk to manage the big guns just as smoothly as we manage the smaller local businesses.

Small team with huge capability

I have worked with some extraordinary people in my many years of communication. I have faced the self-righteous bullies head on and had the pleasure of building incredible relationships across a range of industries. When I decided to grow, I decided there was one thing I would not compromise on. People.

The small team I have built around me is dedicated, talented and ready to take on anything and everything. They are respectful, efficient and entirely reliable. On top of that, you can always have confidence that if my team says they can do something, rest assured it will be done.

We work with clients who are looking for a like-minded approach. If you’re looking for respect, transparency, talent and efficiency – Make it Peachy is on hand to deliver.

Our focus is service – local or remote

I want to make it clear – for me Make it Peachy is all about service. We want to help you communicate your brand, purpose and message with clarity and authority. Understanding who you are and delivering as best we can is how we operate.

Whether you are a local business, looking to expand your presence, or you’re based in a major city a thousand kms away, our team of experts will be there to take you to the next level.

Our boots fit just fine

Because I’ve had the privilege of working in such a variety of industries, I’ve been lucky enough to learn and grow from every experience. I’ve seen arrogance and over-confidence ruin business. I’ve seen a lack of conviction do the same thing.

It’s why I continue to work incredibly hard to hone my craft, build the skills of my team and show a united and confident front at all times.

Join us now and reap the rewards

I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve built so far and am more than excited about what is to come. We’ve got some exceptional ideas, some remarkable talent and a commitment to build ongoing, local and remote relationships.

Why not give us a call, or email now and find out how we can help you, Make it Peachy!

content marketing, content production, copywriting, digital copywriting, ethics, research, writing tips

Newsworthiness versus total tone deafness – how to find the balance

In light of the recent rather tone deaf disastrous blunder, we thought it pertinent to talk about how to get your tone right with your content and content marketing. Seriously, how does a major successful and often entertaining brand get it so wrong? And if they’re getting it wrong, what hope do the rest of us have? Haven’t the experts been telling you all along that relevance and timeliness are fundamental to great content? We certainly have.

The fact is people get it wrong every day. And when they get it wrong, the social media storm descends without hesitation, ready to annihilate every wrong step in its path. It kind of makes you want to curl up and hide – don’t risk it you say. Don’t be crippled by that fear. Creating your own content and offering comprehensive and creative and relevant content solutions to your stakeholders is exactly what will set you apart.

Find your place in the current political or social climate is absolutely crucial for illustrating your value. Profiteering from that climate is stepping into dangerous territory. The key is balance.

Tapping into the local climate versus manipulating it

The world today is under a lot of upheaval. We’re all trying to forge a path amongst the uncertainty and to be fair to Pepsi, they were misguidedly attempting to tap into our burning need for unity right now. The fact is, connecting your message to the wider news and events is a clever tool to show you have both your finger on the pulse and your content is valuable and timely.

What often happens is that instead of embracing the news of the day and finding a place in it, many brands make the mistake of appropriating social, cultural and political catastrophes and inserting themselves where they were never welcome. Thus begins the onslaught of abuse and distrust. With the added bonus of today’s connectivity, your credibility, brand and reputation can be destroyed in mere hours after publication.

Finding an authentic connection

Keyboard warriors the world over are waiting unapologetically to pounce the minute they find a reason. And yes, some of these warriors are nasty trolls that deserve nothing more than a shake of the head and a turn of the cheek. Some of them, however, a genuinely and passionately fighting for what is right, just and authentic behaviour. They are waiting on the other side of that line to make damn sure you know when you’ve stepped over it.

So why test them? Keep your content relevant and respectful. As with any and all communication, the fundamental rule of useful and relevant content is knowing your audience. How will a story about International Women’s Day connect with both your brand and your audience? Are you making reference to a religious holiday? How is it consistent with your news? Is your reference considerate?

By all means, embrace the news of the day. It’s how we connect ourselves to others. But, understand the social ramifications of what you are doing.

You can still push boundaries without isolating people

So what, we just can’t be controversial or push boundaries? Isn’t boundary pushing the cornerstone of comedy and great storytelling? If we are hamstrung by the politically correct are we not just limiting the conversation? Are we not closing the debate?

Not at all! Don’t fall under the misplaced assumption that innovation and creativity have to be offensive. The fact is pushing boundaries is the bedrock of development and progress. Don’t ever lose sight of that, because when you do you lose your audience as quickly as if you’d offended them.

Step out on a limb by all means. The only way you can reach the perfect balance is by knowing where the line is, so embrace boundary pushing in the creative stage. With it you must also embrace self-regulation, conscientious creativity and social sensitivity and awareness.

That tightrope is thin and scary but with your purpose clear and your creatives both socially aware and contemporary you’ll navigate that balance.

Know your core values and stick to them

Another key to ensuring you keep your content on the right side of the line is to ensure that your content always aligns with your core values. If your values illustrate social justice, ethics and unity, then so too should every piece of content you or anyone associated with your brand produce. Of course, you’re going to make mistakes, and if you are being innovative, sometimes you will step over that line. Just remember, if and when you do, your response to that mistake is almost as important.

Find creative experts who will embrace your values

Surround yourself with like-minded souls. Your creative team should fully understand your values and help create content that is in line with those. If you are engaging experts, understand who they are, and ensure their values align with yours. You want to be able to trust your content producers implicitly with your brand. You want to know that they will build your reputation, credibility and brand in a positive and productive light. Choose content producers who value an ethical approach.

Be creative. Be innovative. Be funny. Be fabulous. BUT, be real. Be authentic. Be conscientious. Be kind!

Create by building others up.

copywriting, digital copywriting, editing, freelancing, invoicing, Uncategorized

Billing when freelancing – overcoming the awkwardness

The decision to become a freelance writer was one of the best I’ve made (along with agreeing to marry my husband and making my most excellent child). It’s provided me with freedom, independence, autonomy and most importantly the power to choose with whom I work. Gone are the days of fighting for recognition, negotiating workplace bullies and pandering to other people’s expectations of what a workday looks like. The added bonus? I get to hang out with my kid a couple of days a week, something I feel extraordinarily lucky to do.

For the past four years, I have been lucky (and maybe a little talented) enough to build a comfortable part time business and worked with some pretty fantastic people to boot. While my business grows, and I consider how to elevate it to the next level I have been reflecting on some of the challenges I faced. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I love what I do, there have been challenges. The most salient of which continues to cast a shadow over me. A shadow I fight instincts to overcome.

What is this shadow, you ask? Getting paid. Yup! I have always found the whole process overwhelming and I wish I had someone to give me some tips.

money-in-purse-1237221

First things first – what do I charge?

As I have come to understand, there are countless reasons a contractor might amend their rate card. Whether it be industry, not-for-profit status, offering a package or even throwing in the occasional ‘mate’s rates’, the factors are plenty. As a consequence, not many contractors and freelancers will publish their rates.

As a newbie to freelancing, or even just freelancing to a particular industry, attempting to navigate your way to the perfect hourly rate can be tough. If you aim too high, you’ll get undercut. If you aim too low, people may assume you don’t have a quality product. Locating that Goldilocks rate can be a minefield.

My advice? Do your research before you start quoting. Make a few cursory calls, ask others in your industry, find out what the agents pay. Beyond everything, be confident that your product is worth it.

Stick to your guns – don’t second guess yourself

You’ve finally locked down your rate and even managed to bag a client. Congratulations! Now, stop negotiating. People will always try and get a deal, and if they think they can scrimp another dollar from you, they will. I’ve had clients come to me, halfway through a job, attempting to slide that rate just ‘ever so slightly’ lower. It’s a damn slippery slope. As much as the Pollyanna inside me wants to believe that no one would try and cheat a humble sole trading freelancer, my experience sadly tells me another story.

You are talented. You have the skills. More importantly, you’ve agreed on a rate. As hard as it is, keep that foot firmly on the ground and do not waver. Interesting side note, after I rejected the further discount, the client never brought it up again. Clients worth their weight will respect you more.

Undercharging – it doesn’t pay off the way you think

As with sticking to your rate, charging a client for the right amount of hours is also a tricky one. I always knew that overcharging was a bad move. Not only can it breed bad blood, but it’s just not the right thing to do. What I didn’t learn until I was on the job was the risk of undercharging.

You think to yourself, “Oh I’ll just absorb this cost because it’s a one off”, or “If I undercharge them, they’re more likely to give me more work”. I wish it were that simple.

You under charge, you set a very sketchy precedent. Expectations will be that you deliver at the lower rate every time. While that may make you feel good about yourself, it doesn’t really put food on the table. By all means offer discounts and packages; they can often be your bread and butter. Just don’t put yourself in a position that you can’t then bill your client what you are owed.

Invoicing and following up

Yikes! What a minefield! Asking people for money is awkward as heck.

Do you ever get that totally unjustified wave of guilt when you walk through a metal detector at the airport? I sometimes get that same weird guilt about invoicing people, especially when we’ve developed a rapport. For those who find it as awkward as I do, you’ve got to remember your service/product is valuable. You’ve earned those dollars. Your clients know it, and shock horror, expect it. Invoice and invoice regularly.

If your clients are dragging their feet on paying, remember that’s awkward for them not you. Don’t feel bad about following up.

content marketing, content production, copywriting, digital copywriting, storytelling, writing tips

Create better content with these top tips

Create Great Content
Create Great Content

Australia has thrown itself into the pit of confusion with its latest election. The AEC are slowly determining who’s going to take charge of this fine country, while we all sit helplessly, twiddling our thumbs. Many Australians are disenfranchised, uninspired and unsure where to look to for great leadership. Don’t let your brand fall the way of our major parties. Understand your brand and communicate it with clarity and leadership. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better writer and communicator overall.

Know your message

We can all get caught up in what everyone else is saying and confuse our own message as a result. Much like some of the campaigns rolling around our screens and radios, marketers are seduced by the idea of pulling others down in order to big themselves up. This just pulls everyone into the gutter. It doesn’t matter what the other guy is doing. What do you have to offer? How is it unique or valuable? What do you want your clients, audience or readers to know about you? Answer these questions and you are off to a much stronger start.

Know your style

If your organisation has a communications and/or marketing team, you will likely already have a style guide. If you do not, I urge you to work with your team to create one. A style guide will inform your tone, your approach and your word choices. It can help even the most nervous of writers find the right path. If you don’t have a team to help design a style guide, I recommend you consider working with a consultant, such as Make it Peachy to design one for you.

Design a strategy ahead of time

As we know, there are so many different channels you can communicate through these days and it can be incredibly overwhelming. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the newest trends that you miss the chance to promote your service and product in the most effective way. Understand how the different platforms work, and design a communications strategy that is easy to follow. The Hub created a fantastic infographic outlining 25 great content marketing platforms for your brand. Don’t waste your time throwing your content in every direction, hoping for something to stick. Identify the platforms that best reach your audience and create a content adhesive that sticks every time.

Do your research

What is engaging your industry right now? What are they talking about? What are they debating? Do your research and understand where your industry stands. Where do your audience and clients stand? What are they interested in? How can you show that you offer this? If there is something newsworthy you want to comment on, make absolutely certain you have done your research. Making the time to do your research will keep you abreast of any developments in your industry and help you illustrate your knowledge to your clients.

Strip away the industry jargon

Whether you are designing a presentation, writing an email or creating original marketing content, remember to get rid of that jargon. I wrote a stand-alone blog on stripping away your jargon. As you know, you are the expert in your field, no one else is. The best way to engage people is to make your content as easy to consume as possible. Get rid of your technical lingo and shorten those sentences. Using jargon only serves to alienate people. You can show your expertise with far greater ease when you can explain your point using Plain English.

Don’t forget about your copy

Images and videos are fantastic ways to engage and seduce your readers. People love great videos, emotive pictures, and informative infographics. Make sure you use them where you can. They are a great way to grab your audience. In fact, while researching for this blog, I came across this amusing little video of a professor’s explanation of marketing.

However, ensure you back that up with some quality copy. Your choice of words explains your message and demonstrates your knowledge. Don’t flood your content with images and videos if you can’t back them up with engaging copy.

Educate yourself and your team

You may be the expert. You may have an extraordinary team and some socially progressive, financially sensible policies. The trouble is, if you don’t know how to get that across, you could end up with a hung parliament, or worse, not enough of the market share to actually affect change. If you don’t have the writing or presentation skills you need, don’t wing it – learn. There are thousands of courses around the country that offer up to date advice, tips and tools for you to become a better communicator. If you are looking for writing training, Make it Peachy offers a range  of courses and I can even design a personalised course for your team.

If in doubt, ask for help

If you aren’t confident that you can create engaging content, don’t do it. Talk to your communications and/or marketing team. If you don’t have one, engage a consultant. The only thing worse than not creating any content is creating terrible content. Don’t assume your clients will know you’re passionate and inspiring. Show them that you are.

writing for business
content production, digital copywriting, editing, proofreading, typos, writing tips

Writing tips for non-writers: writing for business

writing for business
Writing for business

Would you like to know how to write purposefully, authentically and effectively in your business? Understanding how to best communicate with your stakeholders can improve business, build credibility and foster excellent relationships. I have plucked a handful of key steps you can take to guarantee an improvement in your writing skills.

Identify a purpose

What is the purpose of your content? Is it internal or external communications? Is it marketing or informative? There is no point spending hours and resources creating content if you don’t know why you are creating it. There are many reasons you might choose to create content, and taking the time to nut out exactly why you want this content will be invaluable to you. It will save time in the long run and will help inform where you want to use the content.

Know where you want to publish your content

Deciding where you want to publish your content should absolutely affect what you produce. Is this content for the web? Is it an annual report for board members? Is it an article for print? Is it an email to a client or colleague? You should take a different approach for each platform. Know ahead of time where you want to publish your content and use that to guide your approach.

Generally speaking, writing for business requires a professional and approachable tone. Be direct, be simple and be clear. If your business has a style guide, you can follow that guide for the right approach.

Identify your call to action

Once you know the desired outcome of your content you have identified your call to action. Make that call clear. Identify it early and always return to it. If any content that you’ve created does not support your call to action – is it necessary?

Know your style

Designing a consistent voice for your business is vital. If you haven’t already, engage a communications specialist, either internally or externally and create a style guide now. This document will help you and your colleagues create consistent, on point, on-brand content for every platform.

Remember to create a guide that includes all the platforms on which you will be conducting business including but not limited to:

  • Emails
  • Reports (external and internal)
  • Website
  • Blog or online articles
  • Newsletters
  • Brochures
  • Social Media
  • Overall printed style
  • Overall digital style

Save your templates

If you have written a great email, or you’re particularly proud of a report you’ve produced, save it. Ensure that you design templates as part of your style guide. This will save time and guarantee a degree of consistency.

Many people do no have experience writing, yet their jobs require writing. Make it easier for them and yourself. Design templates that are easy to follow and save them.

You’ve gotta accentuate the positive

Starting a piece of content with something you can’t do just reminds people what you can’t do. Where possible always lead the focus back to what you can do. Using optimistic language engages your reader on a confident and positive level. Leading with what you can do intrinsically instills your reader with confidence in your ability to do what you need to.

Use the active voice wherever possible. It saves time. It is more direct. It gets your point across in the most efficient way. Unless you are making a specific point, there is no place for a passive voice in business writing.

Get rid of your jargon

When you’re in an industry full of jargon, it’s often difficult to simplify your language and create engaging and clear content. Read my earlier blog for tips on how you can KISS your jargon-filled copy goodbye.

Check it once then check it again.

Pay particular attention to names, titles, gender and dates. By making a mistake this simple you can almost certainly lose a degree of credibility from your reader. Check your facts and then check them again.

Make sure you haven’t made any silly and obvious spelling or grammatical errors. You can refer back to this spelling and grammar checklist for some tips. Don’t just rely on the internet to check your work. Check your content and then check it again.

Ask someone to proofread your content.

Check it one more time.

Ask for help

If you’re still unsure, ask for help. If you don’t have a communications specialist in-house, consider engaging someone like me to help you with your business content.

There are some great courses out there. For a personalised writing training course for your business, get in touch with Make it Peachy for a free consultation.

content marketing, copywriting, digital copywriting, editing, research, storytelling, writing tips

Writing tips for non-writers – KISS your jargon filled copy goodbye

You are the expert. You have oodles of experience. You know your product. You’re passionate about your product.

The problem is you just don’t seem to be able to translate that passion into engaging content. Why?

There are many reasons you might be missing the post. Today, we are going to talk about jargon. That dreaded terminology that took you months, if not years to pick up is likely turning your content to gobbledegook. It’s time to unlearn those words, and simplify, simplify, simplify!

Here are some tips for keeping your content clear, engaging and authoritative. Write down what you know and then give it a little bit of love.

Just remember – it’s all in the KISs

Keep It Short

 You want to find the most efficient way to relay your point. Why use 15 words when four will suffice?

All you are doing is alienating and likely boring your audience.

Your copy overall does not need to be long to be effective. Neither do your sentences. By shedding the excess, you will likely cut a lot of the jargon by default.

Keep It Simple

 Your field is likely full of complicated definitions and terms that make communicating within the industry easier. You must remember that no one else understands your jargon. If you want to illustrate your point, strip away the technical words. Assume your audience does not have a glossary of your terms. Be as clear as you can without patronising your reader.

Your thesaurus can absolutely be your friend. Just try not to overdo it, like Friend Joey Tribbiani once did.

Keep It Straightforward

Get to the point. Unless you are writing for writing’s sake (which by the way is a perfectly admirable thing to do), there is no need to beat around the bush. Tell it how it is.

Sometimes it can be hard to remember that using your jargon is not, in fact, the most straightforward way to explain something. Sure, if you are speaking to people within your industry that may be so. Clients, partners and other stakeholders won’t understand.

It can be helpful to break down your content into bullet points or headings. This can often highlight for you what your most important points are.

Keep It Stylish

 Create a brand style guide. Work with your marketing resources to identify how you want to represent your brand to the public.

Know your tone ahead of time. This can be a really simple way to avoid using jargon. If you have planned your style ahead of time, you might also have identified a handful of key phrases that relay your brand clearly. Using these instead of industry jargon will be far more effective.

Keep it Succinct

You want to make your content clean, clear and sharp. Don’t be precious with your words. There is a lot of literature about how to declutter your life or your house. The Japanese KonMarie method tells us to keep only those things that spark joy. When it comes to your writing, ask yourself, “does this sentence support my point?”

  • Remove anything that doesn’t serve your purpose.
  • Avoid the passive voice; it’s clunky and unclear.
  • Use strong purposeful words. The more direct your words are the fewer you’ll need to use.
  • Don’t be redundant.

When it comes down to it, using jargon in your copy is the easiest way to lose your audience. Non-industry readers won’t understand and they will check out. It is so much harder to win back an audience member than to just keep them interested.

So when you’ve written your first draft – KISs your jargon goodbye.

writing at a table with smart phone and water
copywriting, digital copywriting, editing, research, storytelling, writing tips

Writing tips for non-writers – Secrets of Newsworthiness

Creating engaging, enticing and relevant content can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start. Well, I am going to share a little secret with you. You, too, can create newsworthy copy, that people want to read.

Those of us who trained in the art of writing were all given a cheat sheet; constantly there to remind us what is news. Let’s take a look at the seven pillars of newsworthiness and how you can make your digital copy newsworthy too.

Even when you are creating marketing material for your clients and potential clients, these pillars will ensure your content is on point.

Timeliness – When did it happen?

In a generation of instant gratification; we want what we want and we want it now! When you create your content, bear this in mind at all times.

Is there a NEW campaign? A NEW product? A NEW Service? Is there a way you can make it NEW? If you publish new content on a regular basis you can guarantee that you always have timely news to offer your readers.

Proximity – Where did it happen?

People are generally interested in news that is local. People are often emotionally absorbed by events that are close to them. The tragedy in their local town is a greater tragedy; the local celebration is all the more exciting.

How can you make your content ‘local’? Focus and direct your material to localized groups. Change your content to appeal to each group at a personal level.

One of the many extraordinary things about living in the digital age is that proximity is constantly evolving. As our connection with the rest of the world is consistently strengthened, so too is our ability to reach a wider ‘local’ audience.

By personalising your content to meet the needs or interests of your intended audience your news is in closer proximity to them.

Rarity – How unique is it?

This is a particularly significant point when dealing with digital content. The web is absolutely saturated with content marketing, brand news and ‘exciting new offerings’. The only way to stand out is to find a way to make your content unique.

Why is your product different from the next? What makes you or your service special? Exclusivity is terribly appealing to people, they want to know that they’ve got something that other people don’t.

Prominence – Who’s involved with it?

So many of us are seduced by fame. Whether it is the latest celebrity endorsing the latest product or an industry authority promoting a theoretical approach, others influence us.

Gaining respect in your field is a very important part of adding validity to your work. People want to hear from industry trailblazers who are taking risks and know what’s going on. Join the conversation. Follow the right people. Align your service or product with someone or something that already has the name, respect and prominence.

Impact – How does it affect me, and others I respect?

News is interesting because it changes something. Perhaps it changes the environmental landscape, or the financial landscape or even the entertainment landscape. Someone or something is always affected.

Before creating your content, think about how your content will impact your customers, your industry or the world. Each piece of content you publish should illustrate this change. If it does not – you really need to question whether the material has the desired impact.

Novelty – Why is it interesting?

You can make any piece of writing just a little more engaging by linking it back to something extraordinary. Maybe there’s a holiday coming up, like Black Friday or Christmas, or even an event that is unique to your company. Coming up with a unique approach is key to great news and great marketing.

If you’re trying to push your brand or service, think about how you can link your material to something cool, random or relevant.

Human Interest – How do I feel about it?

Turn your marketing material into a story about people. Not for profit organisations are notoriously good at creating emotive and heart wrenching stories to entice their donors.

Why not take a page out of their book? Tell a story; how did your product or service help Jo Next Door to realize her dream. Pull on the heartstrings and give your audience some human interest.