Archive for August, 2013

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”-  Theodore Roosevelt

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Writing a blog isn’t difficult. It’s a conversation between you and your readers. Deceptively simple but making it all the more easy to miss producing posts of substance and quality. Like all writing, there are pitfalls to watch for. Here are 10 tips to help you blog (w)rite.

1. Identify your audience and decide what you’re going to say that will make them want to read what you write. Also take into consideration that there are different types of readers and you need to adjust your writing or you will lose them.

2. Decide on the overall purpose of your blog. The clearer you are about your purpose, the more consistently you will deliver messages that are on target.

3. Keep your posts centered on one or two topics. Don’t try to cover everything in one post.

4. Keep your blog posts short and simple. Write succinctly. Words that don’t relate to your topic or add value should be left out. People reading online are usually “scanners”. So get to the point quickly.

5. Keep it lively, make it snappy and snazzy. Write like you talk, using common expressions from speech. For structure, keep in mind the journalist’s rule of 5 W’s in the first paragraph: who, what, when, where and why. 

6. Use a clear but captivating headline. Capture your reader’s attention by making a bold statement. Make it snazzy and use key words.

7. Proof-read for typos and grammatical errors, especially for the gotchas that your word processor won’t detect (there vs their, its vs it’s). You wouldn’t go out of the house with missing a sock, so why publish your spelling mistakes? It shows respect for your readers that you went that extra mile to polish your writing.

8. Try to avoid marketing-speak or jargon or bragging about how great your business is. Aim for a fresh, unique take on your topic. Provide a viewpoint that is heartfelt, and compelling. That will have the potential to help you subtly market yourself and your business.

9. Blogging is about writing. Remember that blogging is not about making sales. Don’t use your blog as only a self-promotion tool. Your blog should provide information and value to your readers. Use the written word effectively and you will have an effective blog which ultimately will make you be seen as a subject expert and draw business to you.

 10. One more time: Blogging is about writing and having something interesting to write about!

 

Now go and blog (w)rite!

Quote of the Week

Posted: August 19, 2013 in Quotes
Tags: , ,

“You only pass through this life once, you don’t come back for an encore.”- Elvis Presley

Fun With Language

Posted: August 16, 2013 in Fun with words
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Considering that we are having a dispute over two airlines merging, here are some fantasy mergers to chuckle over:

Polygraph records, Warner Brothers, and Keebler. It would be called Poly-Warner-Cracker.

Honeywell & Imasco & Home Oil = Honey I’m Home

Denison Mines & Alliance & Metal Mining = Mine, All Mine

Knotts Berry Farm & National Organization of Women = Not NOW (notice the all caps emphasis)

Crabtree & Evelyn and Apple Computer  = Crab Apple computer

Swissair & Cheesborough-Ponds – Swisscheese

Zippo Manufacturing & Audi & Dafasco & Dakota Mining = Zip Audi Do Da

Of course we could also speculate as to what kinds of products would result from these weird couplings but that’s a topic for another blog!

From Jesus in Blue Jeans – a practical guide to everyday spirituality by Laurie Beth Jones – In the chapter He (Jesus) Created An Atmosphere (as in corporate culture) she talks about Dutch artist Peter Paul Reubens and how he inspired other people way beyond being a painter. She says: “He imported ideas like others did jewels”

Effective self-promotion is an important element to advancing a career or marketing a business. To get noticed and build a reputation, you have to be able to clearly tell others what you do. The professional biography (bio) provides you with the opportunity to say something about yourself and present your expertise and experience in a carefully thought out, interesting manner. A bio highlights your career accomplishments, your mission, your goals. Writing one is simple but requires some thought and planning.

Think of a professional bio like the blurbs that appear on the back inside flap of a book jacket. It tells a concise story that portrays who you are and what you’ve accomplished. You structure your bio by starting with an overview statement, which provides a big-picture summary of your unique combination of skills and experience. Then you furnish the most pertinent facts that round out the picture. As a business marketing tool, the bio not only offers a story that makes clear your qualifications, but also is consistent with the way you position your products or services. 

Your bio is not a single static document. You need variations that are tailored to each PR situation, with contents projecting whatever image is appropriate. You will need 3 basic ones of different lengths: A long full version of your professional background from which you can cut information, a short one for the “100 words or less” requirement, and a 2 – 3 paragraph one where you specifically tell who you are but expanding on your background. 

Bios should be interesting to read. Make yourself sound like a “mensch”, someone the reader would like to meet (or hire). Don’t lie, but make it zingy. Use “action” words. They make you look like a “doer”. Also create a list of “keywords” that describe yourself, your industry, your skills, and your career. These are important for online “profiles” where you will want to include these words (rather than just the usual ones) so that you are picked up by the search engines.

Leave out the fluff i.e. you have a golden retriever named Sam (unless you are aiming this piece at a dog breeder), or saying something cute about your profession. However, do brag! Use superlatives. Mention the book or booklet you published, the articles you’ve written (even if they were only published in the in-house newsletter). Highlight a major accomplishment or award won (there are no such things as “small” awards!) Never say anything negative about yourself! Failures, self-flagellation, regrets, have no place in a bio.

If you mention your high school or College (have a reason, because the reference enhances something in the present) say something great about it! Why else would you be talking about it? List professional organizations only because they support the image you wish to project. Laundry lists of ANYTHING in a bio turns readers off! 

Depending upon the audience and the image you want to project, you will need to decide whether to write it in a formal voice, or take a more personal tone. A formal biography is written in the 3rd person (these are the ones we read most often especially in press releases)

“Jane Smith is a native of … and graduated from…..”

A bio written in a personal tone is written in the first person and has a more “chatty” voice to it:
“I live and work in…received a BA from…” (this one appears in artist statements, press releases that deal with emotional subject matter, and sometimes on websites)

Lastly, engage a friend, and also a professional acquaintance to give you feedback on both your short version and longer one. Ask them what impression they get about you, your career, your business after reading them.

Once you have your basic ones written, create variations and have them on hand so you can dash one out quickly.

Writing a biography to market yourself is not like writing one as a book. Your professional bio must be short, to the point. The bio is a great way to promote yourself and should be an important part of your marketing/sales arsenal.

“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets” – Arthur Miller