Write … to the Point

– writing tips and tricks

Archive for the category “Blogging”

How to use the 5 Ws (and a sneaky H) for more engaging content

5 WsAs a journalism student, I was taught the 5 Ws of how to write a news story.

Who, What, Why, Where, When; plus the sneaky ‘H’ — How.

Who is the story about?

What is the main point of the story?

Where did the story take place?

When did the story take place?

Why is the story important?

How did it happen?

Fast forward some years (more than I’d like to admit), and I still use this formula when writing content. The only difference is the definitions of the above have been slightly tweaked to suit blogging and long-form articles.

By applying the 5 Ws (and the one sneaky H) you too, can generate engaging content for your brand.

Who

Who is your target audience? Who will be reading your blogs and articles? Who is affected by this topic? Who will benefit by reading this article?

Knowing who will read your content helps enormously when it comes to style and key messaging. It will also help determine what type of language to use. (e.g. If you are writing for a technically minded audience, you can probably use a bit of industry-jargon, whereas if you are writing for the lay person, you would consciously avoid jargon and technical terms).

What

What are you writing about? What are the key messages you want to get across?

When you understand the key messages your article or blog needs to convey, your writing will become more concise and to the point. No one likes to read articles that waffle on and end up saying very little.

Where

Where will your blog or article be published? Will it be in print or electronic form?

Having an idea where your piece will end up and the format it will take should give you some idea of your audience and will therefore help you target the piece. Knowing your reach (and who they are), will also help when it comes to promoting your own work via social media.

When

When will your article be published? Will it coincide with an event/launch/season?

Knowing when your article is due to be published will also help you come up with content. For example, some publications have longer lead times than others — (i.e. magazines and journals often plan three to six months ahead). Keep this in mind as you write. While you may be writing an article during summer, the content required may be winter-focused.

Why

Why are you writing your blog? What do you hope to gain from publishing your piece? Why is the topic important?

Do you want to increase awareness of a particular cause, showcase your business/talents or do you want to generate more business? Having a clear idea of what you want your writing to achieve will ensure that you write it with the end in mind. There is no point writing something simply for the sake of writing.

How

While the question of ‘how’ is slightly less important, it’s still worth considering.

The ‘how’ of your content may be one of a few questions:

How will the reader benefit from this content?

How are you going to promote your piece?

How can you leverage this piece of writing to generate more clients/customers and brand exposure?

So when you plan out your next blog post or article, ask yourself the 5 Ws and that sneaky H, and see how your content will benefit.

If you are wondering whether your business needs a blog, there are 4 things you must consider before going ahead.

If you already have a blog, and would like help planning and writing for your business, please contact us. We would love to work with you.

Cheers

Nerissa

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FREE: Reference material to help you write health content

FREE list of health referencesIn previous blog posts, we’ve discussed the importance of building credibility as a writer and given you tips on how to develop content for your health blogs.

In this post, we’re going to share with you some important reference material that will help you write your health content, and build your credibility.

Why use references?

Referencing is vital when it comes to health writing — or any factual type of writing. There are millions of health-related websites and blogs out there, with many of them offering conflicting advice and information. What’s worse, is that the majority of health information (from what I have seen), is not referenced appropriately.

Referencing is important for several reasons:

  • It ensures the information you provide is accurate and up-to-date
  • It reassures the reader that you are providing them with accurate information
  • It helps build your credibility as a writer
  • It helps gain trust from your target audience
  • It enables your reader to go to the source of the information for further detail.

How to reference

We will talk in more detail on how to reference information in a future blog post. However, when you do reference material, it’s important to quote the original source of the information, rather than make a general statement.

For example, writing, “According to the Heart Foundation, more than 46,600 Australians died from cardiovascular disease in 2013” is preferable to: “Over 46,600 Australians died from cardiovascular disease in 2013”.

When it comes to referencing research studies, simply saying “a study found x,y and z” is not enough. You need to quote the actual study and provide a link to the original study. For example, “a 2010 study by Harvard University, published in Some Journal, found x, y and z” (Reference, detailing the authors, title of study and where it was published should be provided in text or as a footnote, along with a link to the study).

What to reference

There are some definite DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to referencing. Two of the biggest are:

DO use credible reference sources, such as official organisations, peak bodies and accredited government agencies.

(NOTE: Wikipedia is NOT a credible source of information)

DON’T quote information from other articles, particularly if they have not used references.

So where should you go for credible information?

Well, you’re in luck, because here is my list of top places where I source my health information.

FREE list of resources

GLOBAL

 INTERNATIONAL

AUSTRALIAN

Peak bodies

Australian Government Websites

Remember, referencing is critical if you are writing for the health and wellness sector, so always make sure you use credible and reputable institutions and organisations when doing your research.

If you would like help writing your blog or health and wellness content, check out the great variety of Blogging Business Packages we have available. Or, you can simply contact us to have a chat about your needs.

We’d love to hear from you.

Until next time

Nerissa

Health blogging: 6 ways to develop content

6 ways to come up with health content

Health and wellness is a boom industry. In fact, Euromonitor International predicts the industry will continue to grow and become a trillion dollar industry by 2017. [i]

Along with this boom, we have seen an explosion in the number of health and wellness websites and blogs over the past couple of years. And if global predictions are accurate, the number of these will continue to grow over the next few years.

If you work in the health and wellness sector, you may have a blog. (If you don’t but are wondering if you should, take a look at our previous post Blogging for business: 4 things to consider).

However, having a blog and writing it regularly are two different things. After all, how do you know what to write about?

How to generate health content

Because the health and wellness sector is such a big business, it should be relatively easy to come up with content. Right? The first step however, is to know what the purpose of your content is. Do you aim to:

  • show case your knowledge as an expert?
  • sell your services?
  • recruit new clients?
  • offer value-added service to your existing clients?

What you aim to do will influence your content.

Planning health content

Your blog should reflect an aspect of your business. There are many industries within the health and wellness sector. For example:

  • Nutritionists/dietitians
  • Alternative therapies (e.g. aromatherapy, herbal medicine)
  • Personal training
  • Weight loss
  • Beauty therapy
  • Manipulative therapies (e.g. physio, chiropractors, osteopaths, massage therapists)
  • Sports coaches and specialists (e.g. running coaches, sports psychologists).

When planning blog content, you should always try to relate it back to your core business.

6 ways to develop content

So you know what you want to achieve with your blog, and the area you are going to focus on. But where do you get your ideas from?

Here are our top tips:

  1. Health awareness days/weeks/months — With so many health awareness days, weeks and months on the calendar, there is bound to be something you can link in with. For example, Heart Week provides an opportunity to write a blog with a number of different approaches — eating for a healthy heart, how to recognise a heart attack, exercise to improve your heart, etc.
  1. Latest research — Researchers all over the world are making new discoveries relating to health all the time. A quick google search will yield links to news reports. Simply use the information (citing the original reference if possible to build your credibility as a writer), and make it relevant to your audience.
  1. Latest statistics — Health organisations often release new statistics on a regular basis. For example, new obesity statistics offer a platform to discuss issues surrounding sedentary lifestyles, taking up a new sport, mindful eating, avoiding fad diets, etc.
  1. Use the experts — Draw upon content from other professional organisations. For example, if you are a physiotherapist, you may wish to utilise graphics illustrating posture, developed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association, and write an article about correct posture in the workplace. You may also wish to interview an expert on a particular topic that is related to your field.
  1. Link it to current events/news stories — Newspapers, online magazines and even Facebook are full of stories of people who are battling conditions such as cancer, motor neurone disease, diabetes, etc. Use these stories as a platform to discuss a topic related to this story, and once again, relate it back to your business.
  1. Write about how you help people — This is not a ‘direct plug’ for business, but rather a value-adding service. For example, if you are a personal trainer, you can write about how you have turned someone’s life around and include pictures and even an interview with one of your clients. Similarly, a beautician may write about how they helped someone overcome chronic acne.

Successful blogging involves providing useful information your target audience can relate to, and providing it consistently.

If you would like help planning and writing your health and wellness blogs, contact us. We would love to work with you.

And keep your eye out for our next blog post, which will show you the best websites to use when researching for your health writing.

Until next time.

Nerissa

References:

[i] Euromonitor International, Health and Wellness the Trillion Dollar Industry in 2017: Key Research Highlights, published 29 November 2012; accessed 28 July 2015, http://blog.euromonitor.com/2012/11/health-and-wellness-the-trillion-dollar-industry-in-2017-key-research-highlights.html

12 ways to beat writer’s block

12 ways to beat writer's blockYou know the feeling. You have an article due, time is ticking and you’re coming up blank.

The more you try, the more blank you become (if that’s even a thing?!).

Then you start to feel stressed, overwhelmed — the article you thought would come together relatively well, now seems more complex than ever.

ARGH!

Writing can be a tricky business. You need to be creative, coherent, and concise. Most of the time, you have to be ‘in the zone’ to get the job done. The zone is where the magic happens. It’s when your fingers can barely move across the keyboard quick enough, as the thoughts tumble out of your head. Adrenalin flows through your veins and words appear on your computer screen with little effort. What’s even better is that when you go back to edit them, you marvel at how well everything flows and fits together.

Yet ‘the zone’ doesn’t always happen. It can come and go — usually disappearing when the pressure is on and you MUST meet your deadline.

So what do you do, when writer’s block sets in?

12 tips to beat writer’s block

I have suffered from writer’s block numerous times. I will probably continue to as long as I write. However, I have found the following tips have helped me. They are in no particular order, and some days, I need to engage in more than one of them, before my brain kicks into ‘writing gear’ again.

  1. Relax — It’s important to remember that writer’s block happens to everyone — even the most experienced and proficient writers. So chill out, and don’t get upset about it. The more you can relax about it, the quicker you will return to your ‘creative self’.
  1. Just write — “But I’ve got nothing!”, I hear you say. It doesn’t matter. Just start writing. Anything. It doesn’t matter what it is. It can be as simple as: “The cat sat on the mat.” But set yourself a goal to just write whatever comes into your head for 10 minutes non-stop. Most of it will be rubbish of course, but the simple act of writing, will help your head get back into the game and beat that writer’s block.
  1. Write a plan — If you are stuck on how to start your article, plan it out. Write simple bullet points of the key things you want to cover. Then start to flesh those out with one or two sentences. Come up with a working title (you can change that to something more snappy later), and you are on your way.
  1. Read other articles — Research other articles online that are similar in topic to the one you need to write. Sometimes seeing the way someone else has approached the topic can get you thinking differently, unlocking your creativity.
  1. Listen to music — Sometimes you just need to do something totally different, but something that will make you feel good. Put on your favourite song and sing along or dance. It will relieve stress and anxiety, and may unblock your writer’s block. Just make sure you put a time limit on your dancing, otherwise your writing time may turn into a dance party for one!
  1. Write down some goals — Forget about your article and do some goal setting. Think about what else you want to achieve in your life and make a plan, using the SMART acronym (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). Write down action steps. The simple act of goal setting can stir up a fire of motivation and excitement. All of a sudden, you will feel ready to take action — and you may be ready to put that form of action into writing your article.
  1. Research — Leave your current article for 30 to 60 minutes and conduct some research for another piece you need to write. A page of links to information you require for other articles gives you a good starting base for them, and it leaves you feeling like you have actually accomplished something, other than banging your head against the keyboard in frustration.
  1. Rest your brain —Fatigue can lead to writer’s block. If you have been doing a lot of writing of late, or if you have just come out of a particularly productive ‘zone’, your brain may get tired. Give it a break and do something else that doesn’t take much brain power. Tidying your desk, folding the washing (if you work from home), or cleaning out your filing cabinet are pretty mindless tasks.
  1. De-clutter your desk — Our environment often influences our productivity. If you workspace is cluttered, your mind is likely to be as well. Take 30 minutes to clean your desk and declutter. You may be surprised at just how motivated you are to work once you have a clear space in front of you.
  1. 12 ways to beat writer's blockRead something — Pick up your novel or that magazine you’ve been itching to read. Give yourself 30 minutes to get lost in another world. Reading someone else’s work sometimes motivates you to write your own!
  1. Go for walk — Research has shown that going for a walk can boost your creativity by up to 60 per cent [i], so don those runners to get over your block.
  1. Grab a coffee — A cup (or two or three) of good, strong coffee can help you focus, and get your brain into gear.

All of us think differently and work differently. So try a few strategies and see what works for you. And if you come up with any more ideas on how to beat writer’s block, I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers

Nerissa

References:

[i] Journal of Experimental Psychology: Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creative thinking, Oppezzo, Marily, Scwartz, L Daniel, July 2014 Vol 40. No 4, pp1142-52,  http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2014-14435-001/

Blogging for business: 4 things to consider

blog2Blogging — it’s become the new catch-cry of the business world.

But what is the purpose of a blog? And does your business need one?

Most experts in social media recommend blogging as a way to build your business. Some of the most valuable outcomes of blogs include:

  • driving traffic to your website
  • helping convert traffic into leads, which then turn into sales
  • increasing your subscription lists (also known as leads….)
  • building your brand and increasing brand awareness
  • establishing your business as an authority in your industry
  • building a loyal community of followers (which are also leads…)
  • providing a ‘human face’ to your business along with letting people know what your business is really about
  • creating content you can share on your social media sites.

Looking at the above, there is no doubt that blogging is an excellent tool to use in your business.

Blogging for business

However, before you get swept up in the blog-hype, there are a four key things to consider:

  1. Will a blog help your business, or will it become a distraction?
    Many businesses are successful without blogs. I know a few actually. I have discussed the topic of blogging with one of the owners and her response was along the following lines: “I am so busy already and writing a blog will only take me away from my core business. What would be the purpose if it’s only going to be ‘another thing’ I have to fit in?”

    Take home point: If you are already successful, have positioned yourself well in the market and have other marketing strategies working for you, then perhaps a blog is not your priority right now. Or you need to outsource it.

  2. How big do you want your business to grow?
    What are your business goals? Not every business owner wants to become a multi-national company, but most business owners want to be successful. Blogging can help position your business for success. However, lack of a blog does not necessarily mean you will fail.

    Take home point: Business blogs can be a unique tool to position your business for further success, but they are not the only indicator of success.

  3. What do you aim to do with your blog?
    Many business owners decide they need a blog because ‘everybody else has one’. Unfortunately, this is not a good enough reason to develop one. You should be clear about the purpose of your blog and who your readers are otherwise you run the risk of confusing your potential customers.

    Take home point: Know why you are blogging and who your target audience is.

  1. Will you do your blog justice?
    Many people get excited about starting a blog. However, like shiny, new toys the novelty can wear off and before you know it, your blog is now gathering dust in the virtual graveyard with thousands of other blogs. Where does that leave your business? Will you have ‘egg on your face’ for not following through on your (unsaid) promise to deliver?Of course, you also need to consider your ability to write. Everyone has things to say. Everyone has great ideas. However, if you cannot convey these in an easy-to-understand manner (free from spelling and grammatical errors), then you can be doing more harm than good. Many potential customers can assume that poor writing equals poor product or service.

    Take home point: If you decide to create a blog, carefully consider whether you are the right person to take this job on, or if you would be better off to outsource your blog entries.

Blogging — It’s a great tool to use to continue to grow your business. However, like any tool, you need to know how to use it, in order to get the most out of it.

Want to start a blog but not sure you have the time or expertise? We would love to help. Simply contact us and we will be in touch.

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