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?

business tips, communications tips, content marketing, copywriting, editing, ethics, productivity, running a business, Uncategorized

Why ethics is so important to us

I was having a chat with some peers about writing recently and the topic of ethics popped up. We’d all been trained at reputable institutions and most of us had sat through at least one dedicated subject around ethics. What we learned in those classes varied enormously. Sure, we were all taught what our legal obligations were. But it was what we were taught to do with this knowledge that varied. There were recollections of teachers who actively encouraged and guided us to find the best legal route to disruption. Ethics, it seemed played no part.

As a passionate writer, I have always believed that my own personal code of ethics comes above all other obligations. I will never compromise those for a job, win or a handful of clicks, and I ensure that all of my writers are the same. There are people that win work over me because of it, and being scooped in certain circumstances is part and parcel of maintaining one’s moral compass. You know why? Sometimes cheats win – but in my book, that’s never a reason to join them.

As a business, we will never sink below our standards for a quick buck and here are five practical reasons why that’s a good thing.

We have enough grey in the world – it’s the right thing to do

With all that has been happening around the world, so many of us are searching for positivity. Whether it’s the emergence of bigots and racists, rearing their shockingly normal looking heads, or our leaders failing to make the right choices for all our citizens, there is a lot of hate and manipulation in this world. Let’s not add to it!

We are drawn to sensational things and as writers, it can be very very seductive to twist and shape our stories to highlight this. Finding the dirty sexy angle, no matter who it might hurt, or creating inaccurate content to pull in the hits, seems to be the norm for some content producers. But you know what? If you’re a great storyteller, with your audience’s best interest at heart, you can engage and entertain, and do the right thing.

You actually attract a higher quality clientele

Who wants to be in a working environment where your judgement is constantly being called into question? When you show yourself to be ethical in business, you attract like-minded people. It may seem like a stupid idea when you turn your back on a potential client, who is encouraging shady behaviour. In the long run, however, you are holding yourself and your business to a higher standard and you will find that businesses with the same values will see this and be more likely to work with you in the long run.

When it comes to writing, manipulating the truth for one quick win, only goes to show that you are willing to sacrifice your own integrity for a short term gain.

Your reputation and credibility are enhanced

There is nothing more valuable in business than your reputation and credibility. Once lost, they can be near impossible to claw back. In this digital age of social media warriors, this could not be truer. Online reviewing, social networking and online forums have suddenly given a voice to the masses. Sidestepping the trolls, who can cause unparalleled chaos in their wake, angry, disgruntled or wronged clients can easily be as damaging.

When you hold your business operations to a higher standard, all you are doing is building a positive reputation. When you create informative, authoritative, engaging and accurate content, your audience, clients and potential partners will know it.

Business and personal relationships that include trust are stronger

Customer loyalty is crucial in business. Ensuring that your clients remain your clients for as long as their needs match your service is the key to a fruitful business. The key to loyalty is building trust. You want your clientele to be able to rely on the service or quality of product you provide. When they know you’re reliable, they’re more likely to stick with you.

Practice responsible, reliable and transparent business, and your relationships will be stronger and more robust in the long term. When it comes to writing, I ensure every client or partner we work with know exactly where we stand at all times, that way they can rely on our expertise and our ethics.

My team actually appreciate it and work harder

A lovely added bonus to conducting business this way is productivity. My team is far more committed in the knowledge that we don’t cheat, lie or weasel our way through business. They know that I will always treat them fairly and with respect and as a consequence, they treat me and my business with that same level of respect. They work hard because they know I work hard. They know they can hold me to the same high standards that I hold them.

The fact is, there is always an ‘easy’ way to do things. While it may initially show you short term benefits, it’s not going to stick. At Make it Peachy, we ensure every project we take on is delivered to the best of our ability. We are honest, transparent and ethical in business and expect the same from everyone we work with.

 

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.

 

copywriting, editing, grammar, proofreading, writing tips

Top ten grammar hacks – seriously, can someone please explain that f*&^ing apostrophe?

Ever considered yourself the ultimate “grammar nazi”? Perhaps you’re wildly frustrated by the constant pedantic corrections of the obsessive “Oxford comma” user. Even those well versed in linguistic intricacies are sucked into hot debates about where and when sentence structure should be messed with. Is it the author’s prerogative? Are we just being lazy by not correcting them? I spent years being chastised for splitting infinitives, and using literally figuratively, so shouldn’t everyone else?

The wobbly fluid world of the English language is just not that easy to navigate, no matter how many by-lines you boast. As a team of writers, we are putting our hands in the air in joint exasperation.

We decided to pull together our top ten grammar hacks to help you get it right. We even touch on where to put that dreaded apostrophe (though we are acutely aware how many books have been devoted to attempting to get to the bottom of it).

Where to plonk the colon… or was that a semicolon?

Firstly, we love that there is a website devoted entirely to explaining this, with some excellent examples. As the website purports, there are many varied and appropriate differences between the old dot, dot and the comma, dot. The key thing to remember is that a colon is used to create a pause before new information is introduced (such as a list), whereas the semicolon is used to break up a sentence (kind of like a supercharged comma).

Be active… unless you mean to be passive

This one can be incredibly frustrating. The active voice is more direct. It gets to the point more efficiently. It also gives control to the actor in the sentence. It gives the author authority. We recommend that when you are writing for business that you try to stick to the active voice. The exception is style. The passive voice can be a lovely tool for subtly illustrating a point.

Choose a tense and stick to it

It must have been so easy for the educated in the days of yore. You knew exactly which tense fit in which situation. Today, things are a little more complicated. We experiment with tense depending on the purpose of our content. A lot of the time, it actually doesn’t matter which tense you choose. What matters is that once you’ve chosen that tense, you stick to it. That is of course until there is a reason to change.

Confused yet?

Where do I go? Or was that me?

Many grammar enthusiasts get wildly frustrated when a person uses ‘me’ instead ‘I’. Strangely, this writer’s pet peeve (yes, I am very aware I should not have one) is when people do the opposite. This is a classic case of overcorrection. People have clearly become so concerned that they’ll appear uneducated if they pop ‘me’ in the wrong spot that they avoid using it all together. As a general rule, you can use ‘me’ whenever something is happening to, for, with, at you. If you are the object of the sentence, then it is appropriate to use ‘me’. If you are the subject or actor in the sentence, then you should use ‘I’.

The same goes for whom. Sometimes, it’s who.

As Monica so hilariously pointed out in Friends all those years ago, sometimes it’s who. This is another situation where overcorrection has only served to confuse us all. The trick is knowing who is the object and who is the subject. Here’s a little clue for you: ‘me’ and ‘whom’ are generally used in the same spot. ‘Who’ is always the actor. “Whom” is the object.

How many commas do you really need?

There is really no hard and fast rule about commas. Some people love to break up their flow with a comma, some don’t. The trouble is, the comma serves so many purposes, it makes it hard to know which rule you should be adopting. As a result, it really comes down to style and intent. Commas can add a lovely rhythm to prose. They can also make the sentences sound choppy and disjointed. The key is to work out your approach and as always, stick to it.

How does one split an infinitive anyway?

For those totally lost, when a grammar enthusiast disdains that they have once again broken the cardinal rule of grammar, ignore them!  Sometimes, splitting an infinitive is the best way to effectively get your point across. What is an infinitive? It is the uninflected form of a verb. For example, to walk, to jump, to see. What people mean, when they talk about splitting that infinitive, is when you place an adverb (the word you use to describe the verb) in-between the ‘to’ and the action. If it makes sense, by all means, avoid doing this, if only to save yourself from having to explain. But, like many of these ‘rules’, it’s not nearly as steadfast as some would have you believe.

Seriously, where do I put that apostrophe?

Simon Griffin wrote the hugely entertaining book ‘F*&^ing Apostrophes’ in an attempt to clarify things. The apostrophe and its role in language can be so frustratingly confusing that Griffin is right to infer that it does inspire a foul-mouthed response. The most discouraging thing about apostrophes is that you do have to get it right. If you pop one in the wrong spot, this tiny punctuation mark has the power to change the entire meaning of your sentence. Oxford Living Dictionaries has a great piece on apostrophes, and if you are at unsure, we recommend you bookmark this page.

Who, that or which?

Here, catch this spanner! ‘Who’, ‘that’ and ‘which’ all have traditional roles. Depending on where you live, the rules will change. British English suggests one rule for ‘that’ and American English suggests another. What about us poor Australians, stuck in the middle of the debate again. One thing to remember is ‘who’ generally refers to people and ‘that’ and ‘which’ to things. It really comes down to a preference of style.

Whatever you do, be consistent

English is a changing beast. Rules that were hard and fast years ago, now hold little weight today. You can experiment with language to find the style and tone that suits your purpose. Play with rules and disrupt the status quo. The only rule we think everyone should stick to is consistency. Once you’ve made the choice, stick to it. If you jump between styles, you really will confuse your reader. So, unless that is the intent, please, be consistent.

 

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!

copywriting, editing, proofreading, research, typos, writing tips

Research my old friend – the key to credibility

Well, that was embarrassing! By no means the most embarrassing thing to come out of the White House in recent weeks, but for us lowly Aussies, it’s a pretty blatant slap in the face. It just shows how a simple mistake, like not knowing someone’s name can wreak havoc with your credibility (although having said that I suppose that would have to assume Mr Spicer had some to begin with, which is up for debate). As a writer, it just reminds me how critical it is to have exemplary research skills.

What’s in a name?

While we all may take issue with some of the decisions our Prime Minister has made (or not made for that matter), Spicer referring to Malcolm Turnbull as ‘Prime Minister Trumbull’ has put a bad taste in our mouths. Is it that he deliberately got it wrong and is trying to make a statement that we don’t matter? Or is he so grossly incompetent that he can’t check his facts before addressing the media? Either way, it doesn’t sit well.

As a writer, I am always thrown new and bizarre topics and ideas. I am tasked with creating something engaging in any number of industries and fields and write it in the name of the experts. If I muck up the facts, not only I lose face, but so do my clients. What’s in a name? Your credibility that’s what.

Finding credible sources

Don’t get tarred with the unpleasant brush of ‘alternative facts’. Much like we all need to start investing in the validity of the news put in front of us, when you are producing content, make absolutely certain you know where your facts came from.

Don’t take my word for it. I cannot emphasise enough, the need to find credible sources. A little reminder, Wikipedia might give you your quick facts to get you started, but you know anyone can edit their pages, right? Whether you are writing news articles for major publications or editing a bit of content for someone’s website, if you use someone else’s content, please check it first.

book-1421245

Check your facts

Not only do you need to ensure that your sources are credible but more important than that – have you checked your facts? Have you checked your names? Your dates? You may have gone out of your way to find credible sources, interviewed fantastic people and profiled some fascinating event or product. But if you’ve mucked up the nitty gritty, the whole content piece is totally worthless! I’m not even exaggerating. It’s one thing to have the odd typo (even us experienced writers must admit that every now and then something slips by), it’s another thing entirely to call the Prime Minister of a country by the wrong name.

Research can be fun – really it can!

You know the thing I love most about what I do? That I get to step into someone else’s world for a day. For the time it takes me to produce that content, I get to become an expert. And for that time, I do. The cool thing is that other people’s worlds can be amazing, especially when you get to step back into your own at the end of the day.

To make something interesting to your readers, you’ve got to be interested yourself. The best way? Get in and learn. Before I worked for a metal finishing company, I had no idea how cool metallurgy can be. I mean, seriously, check this video out. Science is cool!

Don’t proof your own work

Whatever you do, whatever you write, wherever you plan to publish, don’t proof your own work. Yes, of course, you can ensure you minimise mistakes and check and recheck everything you write. Please remember, you are invested in what you create and sometimes you will miss things. Sometimes significant things. Don’t embarrass yourself the way that a media professional never should. Ask for help.

There are so many things I want to say about research. I am a research fiend. I actually enjoy finding new and interesting ‘actual facts’.

You know what? The last few months have been pretty confronting for a lot of people. There is so much about recent events that if I am honest, I am not even sure how to react. But you know what? I can say this! Do your F$#@ING research!

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.