communications tips, content marketing, content production, copywriting, editing, grammar, proofreading, storytelling, technical writing, writing for the web, writing tips

Spring Clean – dump these five common mistakes for sharper content

We actually went out one day last week without layers – spring is definitely on its way. Even if it’s taking its time. As we all whip out the cleaning products in an attempt to spring clean, we thought we’d pick our five top content pitfalls. These pitfalls are mistakes even we, seasoned writers, fall for. So, join us at Make it Peachy, and spring clean your content for greater impact today.

Squash the temptation to over decorate

I am a naturally effusive person. It is a character trait that has served me well in business and my personal life. I’m also a card-carrying logophile. There is nothing more exciting as a writer than finding the perfect string of words to convey your intent. As a consequence, I am always fighting my instincts to dress up my sentences with as many descriptors as I can dream up. Adjective here, adverb there, my default is to overdecorate.

While long expressive sentences have their place, try to avoid them. People are reading your content for information. Give them that information as directly and simply as you can. Sure, if you find a lovely turn of phrase, don’t be afraid to throw it in, but don’t give your readers extra work.

Avoid those unnecessary exclamation points

As the emergence of emoticons has illustrated, tone can be painful to convey. We’ve all been there. You open a work email from a colleague and they’ve answered every question and addressed every problem yet you walk away feeling totally offended. In a bid to avoid offending others, many of us have resorted to excessive punctuation. Not a great move in business.

Overusing the exclamation point may convey your enthusiasm, but it can also diminish your credibility. When you’re communicating with colleagues, clients or customers on a professional level, tone is crucial. Think about what you’re saying. Are there any obvious alternative connotations? Can you reword your content to make it simpler? Don’t assume a level of intimacy until it has been established.

Don’t leave your readers hanging

We’ve all been conditioned to think that the ultimate cliffhanger is the best seduction. Serial storytelling has sucked us all in at some point. The trouble is, when it comes to effective storytelling and content writing, leaving your audience on a cliffhanger is more likely to annoy them. There is a fine line between suspense and frustration and it’s generally better just to avoid it.

You don’t want your audience to want to skip ahead. You want them to relish everything you give them. Make sure every piece of information you give them is useful and valuable.

Get rid of your clickbait

For those unfamiliar with the term, clickbait is the manipulative tool some businesses adopt to seduce readers into clicking on their content. They pick a deeply sensational heading to ensure maximum click-through and then fail to deliver on authentic content. As appealing as those numbers may be, they are not accurate.

As we all become savvier digital readers, our patience wears thin when we feel short-changed. Don’t do that to your audience. By all means, be creative and controversial with your headings. However, if you want a satisfied audience, ensure that you walk the talk.

Stop trying too hard

We know the world is flooded with content, good and bad. We also know that the only way to reach your audience is to ensure your content adds value to the pool. Those two things can sometimes lead us to try too hard. You don’t have to be the funniest, most original or quirkiest every time. What you do need is authenticity.

You know your business and/or purpose. You know what value your information will add. If you find a unique way to communicate that, then fantastic. If you don’t, don’t despair. Create useful, real and honest content that people can genuinely connect with.

We all clutter our content with the above, and I am no exception. Rejuvenate your content this spring by weeding out these pitfalls and you’ll find your content blossoms.

business tips, communications tips, content marketing, copywriting, editing, storytelling, writing for the web, writing tips

What sporting movies can teach us about writing for business

This writer is not a great follower of competitive sport. Don’t get me wrong, I love to play, and if I’m honest I do love to win. The trouble for me is watching. As the UK Premier League Football (yes, soccer) season kicks off, I begin my nine-month TV compromise with the husband. As he immerses himself in the early season drama and politics I am quietly drifting off thinking about my all-time favourite sporting movies. The romance of Fever Pitch, the determination of Remember the Titans, the calculated yet extraordinarily inspired planning of Moneyball. All wonderful stories told beautifully through the lens of competitive sport.

I am reminded just how useful a tool this genre can be in communicating authentic, engaging and emotive stories. I am reminded of how a well-oiled team is always greater than the sum of its parts. What’s that go to do with writing you ask?

When it comes to creating exceptional content, you might have the juiciest salacious news, but if you relay that news incorrectly, you can lose your audience in a second. On the same page, like Brad Pitt’s Oakland A’s, you could have some relatively dry, technical information, but when you structure that content right, you can win audiences you thought were out of your league.

Not sure how to ensure your content hits the ball out of the park? Learn from some of my favourite sports movies of all time.

Moneyball – Get the structure right and win

Moneyball is such an unexpectedly great lesson in structure. We follow the journey of Billy Beane, the washed-up player/coach as he discovers just how idiotic it can be to pin your entire strategy on the skill of one or few. With the help of economics graduate Peter Brand, he learns that by understanding the true value of every player, he could build a much stronger team.

How does this translate to content writing?

You may not be sitting on the most seductive product or content. What you have is a unique set of skills, knowledge and services and when you understand each piece and its overall value, you can construct a story, article or content piece that highlights those things and suddenly you’ll find you reach your desired audience.

Remember the Titans – Embracing diversity will always set you apart

What a scarily relevant story to think about today. In a world where diversity should be part and parcel, we have been recently horrified by the disgraceful behaviour of few. This throwback film from 2000, is a inspiring reminder of how diversity can add true value to a team and outcome.

How does this translate to content writing?

Research overwhelmingly shows us that diversity in business increases productivity, morale and reputation. You can illustrate this in the way you talk about your business. Create content that explores diversity, challenges your unconscious bias and promotes equality.

Fever Pitch – Show your passion inclusively and your audience will follow

Adapted from the passionate semi-autobiographical book by British author Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch is the story of how one sports obsessed super fan negotiates love and romance outside his passion. He must learn to use and share his love of the sport with the woman he loves or risk losing them both.

How does this translate to content writing?

You are the expert. You know the value your product or service brings. When talking about your service, product or industry be careful to translate your passion in an inclusive way. Find a way to connect your audience to your content and share your passion that way.

Field of Dreams – If you build it they will come

This is a slightly bizarre eighties iconic tale of a corn farmer who is inspired to build a baseball field in his corn field. It might sound odd to the uninitiated, but it’s actually a truly delightful story about believing in yourself and pursuing your dreams regardless of how impossible they may appear.

How does this translate to content writing?

For us, this is a lovely reminder that nothing happens if you don’t try. Things may seem impossible, but when you start creating, unimaginable things can happen. Your elusive audience, potential client or partner won’t just come to you blindly. When you create extraordinary content – you’ll attract extraordinary things.

The Mighty Ducks – When you know what drives you, you’ll inspire others

For any child of the nineties, this is a sporting classic. A lonely lost lawyer is ordered to rediscover his love of ice hockey and in turn, inspire a ragtag group of misfit tweens. It’s a story about both passion and teamwork and as cheesy as it may be to some, its message is pretty timeless.

How does this translate to content writing?

The two greatest takeaways for writing great content are:

  1. Connect with your audience by showing your genuine connection to your content and product overall
  2. What drives your audience? Find a way to connect on a personal level and you’ll find you make much richer and more robust connections.

So, there you have it! The invaluable lessons some of my favourite sporting movies have taught us about writing great content. Now, to convince the husband that re-watching The Mighty Ducks is pretty much the same thing as watching the next live football match. Right?

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, storytelling, writing tips

The art of storytelling – what Joss Whedon teaches us about content creation

Weaving the right texture into a story can be one of the biggest challenges when creating great content. When you get it wrong, your credibility can fall flat and your audience will split faster than a freshly fertilised egg. The fact is, we learn, engage and connect through story – just ask the scientists. As storytellers by trade, our team here at Make it Peachy are inspired and influenced by some pretty spectacular storytellers. It’s their skill, style and approach that help us create content of the vast range of industries we do. Over the coming months, we plan to pick some of our favourite storytellers and explore just how they can make us all better content producers.

In honour of the 20-year anniversary of one of our favourite TV action dramedies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we have chosen Marvel’s current golden child, Joss Whedon.

 “The main function of the human brain, the primary instinct, is storytelling. Memory is storytelling. If we all remembered everything, we would be Rain Man, and would not be socially active at all. We learn to forget and to distort, but we [also] learn to tell a story about ourselves.”

Arguably one of the most progressive and dynamic storytellers of our time, Joss Whedon has thrilled, amused and enlightened us for more than two decades. The reason? He’s a damned fine storyteller. He has a knack for turning the spectacular into the relatable and vice versa. We’ve identified the TOP FIVE ways Whedon achieves impact.

Have something to say

“I still want to connect with people … The only thing I do know is that if I approach a story with that as my goal, I will not come up with a story. I will come up with a retread, I will come up with a commercial for storytelling.”

We often spend too much time searching for a way to connect with our audience. Don’t get us wrong, that relationship and connection is a key part of storytelling. What Whedon reminds us, though, is the importance of knowing what you want to say before the audience even comes into it. What are you compelled to write about? What is the purpose of your content? When you understand this, you give your story a trajectory that both you and your audience can follow.

Planning and structure are crucial

“I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes? The thrills? The romance? Who knows what, and when?”

When you look at storylines such as Buffy or the Avengers, you’ll notice how clear and simple their structure is. Because the structure is so clear, it leaves us as audience members room to engage emotionally with the deeper plot lines and subplots. As content marketers, storytellers or communicators, when the structure is clear, we have the freedom to explore more sophisticated techniques.

Understand your audience and deliver what they need

“Don’t give people what they want, give them what they need.” 

The key to engaging your audience, according to Whedon is the notion that creating the story we think that people want to hear will always end in disaster. Don’t speculate about what your audience wants from your content. Understand your audience to the point that you can design and deliver what they need.

Do the unexpected!

One of the coolest things about Whedon’s writing is his ability to catch us off guard. Don’t take the popular path just because you think you’re going to connect. Buzzwords can serve a purpose absolutely. But, find a new way to connect. Disrupt the status quo. Shock, excite and engage your audience.

Use humour where appropriate

“Humour keeps us alive. Humour and food. Don’t forget food. You can go a week without laughing.” 

Fans of his work certainly appreciate the humour that Whedon tosses into all his projects. Interestingly, his use of humour is a device to disrupt or make us think. It is just as pointless creating a piece of content full of purposeless jokes as it is to create content with no value at all. Embrace humour, and if you’ve stumbled across the ultimate one-liner that will nail your intro, then, by all means, throw it in. Just don’t use it as a crutch.

We could write a hundred more tips that we’ve learned from this master and will continue to learn. The fact is inspiring storytellers are the greatest teachers. Read about them, follow their advice and you’ll become a better storyteller by default.

 

copywriting, editing, storytelling, sub-editing, writing tips

Top Ten blogs for and about writing

I had one of those moments this week that made me want to Michelle Obama all over the nasties. I’m choosing to go high today and tomorrow. Much like some other bullies that crave the limelight, I’m not even going to give them the satisfaction of knowing it was them.

Inspired by my low blow (which incidentally had nothing to do with writing), I’m going to build some people up that I think are doing some awesome work. I’m not going to stop there. Instead of shame the people who’ve done me wrong, I have decided to create a monthly post devoted to building people up. Instead of tearing people down – let’s take the time to acknowledge people do something well.

Welcome to the first instalment of the Make it Peachy, Top Ten Awesome Humans of the Month. This month, I’m starting with what I know. Writers and writing blogs. These are the bloggers that in my mind are generous with their advice, informative with their content and encouraging to all those out there struggling to make a living in this industry.

Write To Done

As we are all aware, the internet is flooded with content. Rifling through the clever marketers to find the useful content is a job in itself. As writers, we are always struggling with the challenge of creating genuinely helpful and engaging content, and pandering to what we think our audiences are looking for. Write To Done is one of my favourite places for tangible and useful writing tips.

Their contributors are generally established bloggers and experienced writers, so the advice is well thought out and as they put it ‘insanely useful’. Whether you are a creative writer, struggling to find your voice or a content editor searching for content marketing tips, these guys have it all.

Thought Catalog

The thing I love about Thought Catalog, is its unflinching enthusiasm for writing and writers. Thought Catalog is an online magazine, designed specifically for creating a platform for young and emerging writers. They want you to contribute and they want you to be good.

The reason I love them is not necessarily because I love every article (although they are usually engaging and entertaining), but because of their mission. Thought Catalog exists entirely to encourage creativity in others and that ought to be applauded.

Goins Writer

Jeff Goins seems to top every top list for writers’ blogs I’ve found. He’s a successful author and is using his blog to share his experience and advice. Again, his focus is on building others up, rather than climbing over the fallen below him to reach the top. He fosters creativity with his range of blog posts, webinars and podcasts, with palpable tips that anyone, entering this or any other creative field can embrace.

The Write Life

The Write life is such a great resource. Whether you’re a freelancer, aspiring author, content marketer or a combination of all three, this is a site that has some brilliant articles. In fact, for those looking for the web’s most useful writing websites, you can’t look past the Write Life’s 100 best websites for writers in 2017. Their content is always being updated so you know the content you find will be current and valuable.

The Write Practice

For writers struggling with writers’ block or confidence, this is a fantastic website. They have daily writing exercises to keep your talent trained as well as training and tutorials for those wanting to work on their craft. They have some super useful advice around editing and writing tools and can walk you through the scary prospect of building an audience on social media platforms like twitter.

Positive Writer

Helmed by Bryan Hutchinson, Positive Writer is exactly as it sounds. It’s a wonderfully optimistic blog that is designed to build confidence and positivity in the doubtful minds of aspiring writers. This guy has chosen to create a site specifically designed to make you feel good about yourself and your craft. Awesome!

Like Jeff Goins, he is a successful author and it’s heartening to see someone wishing success on others. Sure, he is building his brand at the same time. But you know what? We all are. At least he is doing it in a way that lifts people up with him.

Every Writer

This is a forum for writers and editors to give back. Using their experience, contributors are invited to share their stories, and advice for those creeping up behind them. In fact, contributors are rewarded with a bio page when they submit more than one article to the website. For writers who just have no idea where to start, Every Writer is fantastic. They even have the largest free searchable book publisher listing online.

Copy Blogger (Rainmaker Digital)

These guys are the content marketing gurus. Grown from a sole blogger, this site walks the talk. They have built their audience organically through engaging content and useful tips. But rather than keeping those marketing secrets to themselves, the team at the now named Rainmaker Digital want to share, educate and train others to benefit from their industry knowledge. Like all our picks, they genuinely want you to succeed as much as they have.

Writers Helping Writers

Writers Helping Writers is designed for the writer by the writer. Their focus is around fostering emerging talent and helping them hone their skills and find a way into the industry. It is run by passionate writers who, themselves were once struggling to find their place and now gratefully want to show others the path they took. While their focus is for writers aiming to become published authors, the resources they offer are super useful for anyone interested in content producing.

Daily Writing Tips

My final pick marks number 10 of so many wonderful blogs, websites and online resources for writers. Daily Writing Tips is a great place to find tips, prompts and exercises. The difference between these guys and the above is that Daily Writing Tips are designed to help everyone, including those, not familiar or comfortable with writing. Their advice is solid and their intention altruistic.

This is just a drop in the ocean when it comes to amazing writers’ content online. There are so many wonderfully talented writers and writing trainers around the world, offering extraordinary content and I plan to start a list, so please let me know any bloggers or websites you think are useful for writers.

The thing is – there are some incredibly sad, stressful and terrifying things happening in this world. I refuse to let those things/people win. Once a month I am going to list my favourite people/resources in the fields I am exposed to. Let’s unite and build each other up.

copywriting, editing, productivity, storytelling, writing tips

How to be productive in this DISGUSTING heat wave

This summer has been a new level of mean. The teasing way it throws us a ‘cool change’ for five minutes before blasting us with a super powered wave of heat for four more days is just mean. Like many Australians, I have no air conditioning, and my goodness, it has been a struggle to will myself to concentrate. On the one hand, the excruciating heat sends me momentarily into states of mild hallucinations, giving me some hilarious and awesome ideas for my creative writing. On the other hand, I have a permanent and thick layer of revolting sweat pasted over my entire body, the motivation to sit down and be productive is at a scary low point. Procrastination has become a real and stunning art form.

I can’t possibly sit down at the computer – it’s letting off heat, I’ll pass out

Of course, this is the best time to attempt to make homemade ice cream for the first time, without the right equipment

This fan isn’t doing anything, perhaps if I fiddle with the settings for another fifteen minutes, the air will suddenly cool and relieve me from this fire

I’ll just have a quick shower to cool down

The list goes on and on.Don’t get me wrong, I procrastinate with the best of them even when I am not covered in a layer of sweaty grime. But this whole heat wave has really reminded me how much I need to trick my brain out of its wildly imaginative coma. And write!

Don’t get me wrong, I procrastinate with the best of them even when I am not covered in a layer of sweaty grime. But this whole heat wave has really reminded me how much I need to trick my brain out of its wildly imaginative coma. And write!

The key seems to be not too much at once

The prospect of hitting your 1000/2000/5000-word goal on a day like today can be wildly daunting. I mean sitting in one spot for that long in this blinding heat is a terrifying thought. Forget about your word count – give yourself a time limit.

I have found with my writing, as odd as it is to flip in and out of the imaginary world I have created, giving myself a time limit has led to more writing days than anything else. 30 minutes is nothing. Grabbing the laptop while the toddler is hurling his rice around the kitchen and knocking out a few paras has produced some of my better work. The reason? I think partly it’s because I am not overthinking things. I have my time limit, I have my distractions, but I also have my commitment.

Create little games for yourself

When you run a household that includes small humans the excuses for not making time for yourself come in waves. We forget that we are better parents, partners and human beings when we are healthy mentally and physically. That means committing to the stuff.

When I exercise, I like to trick myself into doing more with funny little mind games. When swimming laps, for example, I’ll count backwards and only half the time. Somehow, 80 laps become 20 in my head. Works every time. I know! When it comes to concentrating in this heat I find myself doing the same thing.

I’ll give myself limits to reach and then just before I reach them, like my own little PT I extend it, by just enough that my conscious self doesn’t realise. Odd yes, but oh so very productive.

Mix it up

Being stuck in one place for too long in this heat can just make things a little unbearable. Move around. Take the laptop to a café for a coffee, write in your living room or get out the old quill and parchment and write something down. It’s another little game I play. I think I am procrastinating, and yet at the end of the day, I have produced work.

Make your own homemade ice cream – seriously, it’s so tasty

I’m not even joking. This heat makes our minds turn to mush. Creating environments that force us to be creative can be just the jump start you need to get your inner engine working again. I’m not saying it must be ice cream, although with this weather it kills multiple birds.

Sometimes a little procrastination is all you need

I know, I know I am a proud card-carrying procrastinator. But I genuinely think it can be helpful sometimes. Rather than berate myself because I spent the morning creating tasty and refreshing treats instead of writing, I could embrace the refreshing break and use it to inspire myself back to the keyboard. Yes, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of inspiring tales on Reddit or bored panda, but you know what? Sometimes it’s that random Redditor that inspires you to find that hook you’ve been fighting to discover all week.

Writing prompts

Do it! It’s not cheating – it’s a bloody excellent tool. You can’t ride a bike without pedals and you can’t write quality without the right inspiration. That can come anywhere. Use prompts and use them often. You never know what could come from them. On that note, watch this space for some upcoming prompts and ideas that I have found fantastic.

They all say it but seriously, it works – write a little every day.

content marketing, freelancing, storytelling, writing tips

Training your brain – how I found more hours in the day

A friend and I have conducted a little experiment over the last few months. The results were pretty eye-opening. I wrote the first draft of a novel. Yep, an entire novel. She has found time in her days to focus on her creative writing in a way she hasn’t done for years.

It may not be new to all, but for two young mothers, of boisterous and energetic toddlers, we are pretty proud of ourselves. The cool thing is we have realised it doesn’t have to be confined to writing. I want to give you just a teaser of the program we mapped out for ourselves that changed our perspective, our time management and our motivation.

Lamenting the time away

It is so very easy to stubbornly declare that there is no time. How could I possibly fit that in when I have a child, a job, a relationship? Yet somehow we all still manage to keep abreast of our favourite TV show. Why? Because they exist in 30-40 minute increments.

We went through this exact process. Wildly jealous and awed by the friends we have writing books, composing symphonies and running businesses on the side, we were caught up in our own lives and the excuses we created every day. How do they do it? They must never sleep. They must never see their children. They mustn’t have jobs.

We couldn’t possibly fit anything else in we lamented.

And then it dawned on me

While engrossed in the latest episode of Once Upon a Time (yes, I genuinely enjoy it), my thoughts were racing. My protagonist has that trait. Ooh, my bad guy could have a similar back story. My plot would be different for these reasons. If only I had the time to explore them. Then my rambunctious two-year-old would bound into the room, ready for some drawing and train track building. Yet, I claimed to be a writer? A creative?

Naturally, I had to complain to my equally time-poor mummy writer pal about this. All the while, logging into the ultimate time vacuum that is the social media. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the socials. I think their value in business and communication as whole is extraordinary. In fact, I will be addressing some of those values in an upcoming blog. But it certainly takes up a LOT of time.

It was amidst these laments that it occurred to me. A realisation that many successful people before me have come to. I don’t really need more time.

One episode at a time

In a world designed to appease the desperate impatience we’ve come to embrace, binge-watching, 24-hour news and instant gratification have become the norm. No longer can we wait week on week for the latest episode of our favourite show. Somewhere along the way, we lost the excitement of anticipation. We lost delicious seduction of a teaser, in favour of an immediate climax.

We’ve come to need that satisfaction now and in full. If we can’t have it all right now, then we don’t want it. This hugely short-sighted attitude is what led me, my friend and many of you to the inaccurate conclusion that we just don’t have time.

As Australian network TV finally catches up and fast tracks a handful of key shows, I have learned, once again the value of patience. I don’t have to write a novel in a day. I don’t need to quit my job and wait for my son to go to school.

An attitude shift

My mummy friend and I realised, that all we needed was 30 minutes. 30 minutes and a little bit of accountability.

The result was unexpected. Naturally, I thought I might achieve a little more if I approached my projects in a different way. What I didn’t expect was such a profound shift in my approach to everything.

About a quarter way through our first experiment, we started to see things we’d never seen before. Time was no longer our master, but rather we channelled the powers of the Doctor and realised we were our own time lords.

I know it hurts but I promise it helps

In a bid to encourage you, dear reader, to change the way you see time and consumption, I am not going to give away everything at once. As much as I would love to minimise the competition, if you’ve got a book, a symphony, a creation of any kind inside, this may just help you pull it out. If you, like us, are impatiently claiming that it is time that steals your great creation, tune in for Part II.

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.

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.