Write … to the Point

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Archive for the category “Business”

Active voice, passive voice — what’s the difference?

Active and passive voice - what's the difference?

Remember back in school when you learnt about the different ‘voices’ in your writing?

No? Active voice and passive voice?

Still nothing?

Well that’s okay. This blog post will explain all you need to know about active and passive voice, and when you should use each voice.

 

The difference between active and passive voice

In its simplest terms, active voice occurs when the subject of the sentence (or performer) is performing the action. For example:

Tom loves Jess. Tom (the subject) is performing the act of loving.

Passive voice is when the subject receives the action. For example:

Jessica is loved by Tom. Jessica (the subject) is receiving Tom’s love.

 

 Using the active voice

It is generally recommended to use active voice when writing. Active voice is clearer and more succinct. It clearly identifies the action and who or what is performing the action. It is stronger, and enables us to communicate our message more effectively. It also can be used to point the reader in a particular direction

Active voice has a kind of energy that passive voice lacks. It is the perfect choice in business writing — particularly when using a ‘call to action’ (e.g. ‘Call us now!’). And it is usually the choice for creative writing.

 

Using passive voice

While passive voice is often wordier than active voice, it is useful to use it in certain situations. For example, health writing often use the passive voice, because the ‘performer’ is less important than the action.

e.g. Carbohydrates are found in fruits and vegetables.

While using active voice in scientific writing is sometimes preferable, passive voice is useful because it is considered inappropriate for scientists to insert themselves into the paper.

e.g. The subjects were tested instead of We tested the subjects.

Passive voice is also used when the performer is unknown, irrelevant or obvious.

e.g. Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with cancer.

It is also useful when hedging around a topic. You will notice that police officers, managers and politicians often use passive voice when they don’t want to, or are unable to identify the person who has performed the action.

e.g. Mistakes were made and the procedures were misinterpreted.

 

How to recognise passive voice

As we have seen, using passive voice is not wrong. However, active voice is preferable in most cases. To determine if your writing is passive, look out for the following tell-tale words:

  • be
  • is
  • are
  • a
  • was
  • were
  • has been
  • have been
  • will be

If any of these words appear, then you have written a passive sentence.

 

Changing from passive to active

Active sentences follow a logical order:

i.e. doer of action (performer) + action + receiver of action

To change a passive sentence into an active one, simply:

  1. begin the sentence with the doer of the action
  2. make the verb active
  3. put the receiver of the action after the active verb

e.g.                                        

The novel The Power of One was written by Bryce Courtenay (passive)

 CHANGES TO:

 Bryce Courtenay wrote The Power of One.

  

Final tips

Remember, passive voice has its place in writing too and in some instances if preferable. The type of voice you use in your writing will depend upon what you’re writing, who the audience is, and what the aim of your communication is.

But if you want your message to be snappy and clearly understood, always choose an active voice.

If you need help deciphering active and passive sentences, or just don’t want the bother of doing it at all, please contact me.

Cheers
Nerissa

 

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9 problems associated with writing for FREE

Problems when you write for free

Starting your freelance writing career can be very daunting with many challenges along the way.

One of the most challenging aspects is landing work; gaining clients; winning writing jobs.

What can sometimes make this difficult is that potential clients want to see your portfolio. But hang on! You don’t have one because you’re just starting out! So how are you supposed to get work without a portfolio? And how are you supposed to create a folio without any work?

So, you decide to write for free for a while, until you build up a worthy portfolio to show your potential clients. Right?

Wrong!!

 

Problems when you write for free

While it may seem like an easy solution to your problem, writing for nothing can actually lead to more problems — for you and for your fellow writers.

Problem #1: You set the precedent that you will continue to work for free.

Once a client or editor realises they can get writing from you without paying for it, guess what they’re going to do next time they need something. Yep. Ask you to do it — for free. Why would they begin paying you when you didn’t request payment the first time?

Problem #2: You tell people your work is not valuable

When you don’t place a monetary value on your work, you send a message that you don’t see value in your work. And if you don’t see value, why should they?

Problem #3: Exposure means nothing

Many potential clients will offer you something called ‘exposure’. That is, they will promote your work on their social media channels, etc. While that sounds appealing, ‘exposure’ rarely leads to paid work, because their target market is usually not YOUR target market. Besides, most of us write to make money, and last time I checked, you can’t pay for your groceries or your mortgage with ‘exposure dollars’!

Problem #4: Writing for free actually costs you

You might think you’ve got nothing to lose by writing a few articles for nothing. But how much time do you spend doing that? Time is money. And if you’re not earning money with your writing, then you should be spending time working on tasks that WILL bring you money, or building your business. Don’t use your precious time or your talents making someone else successful at your expense. You’d be better off getting paid employment.

Problem #5: You encourage the exploitation of writers

Every day, in every city, around the world, writers are asked and expected to write for nothing. In short, this is exploitation. When you agree to work for nothing, you’re sending the message that it’s okay to exploit the writing profession in general. Stop doing that.

Problem #6: You undermine the value of artistic industries

Artistic and creative professionals have always struggled to be considered as valuable as other professionals. When you agree to work for free, you contribute to this misunderstanding and perpetuate the problem.

Problem #7: You make it harder for other writers to earn a living

Each time you say ‘yes, I will write for free’, you empower that editor to ask the next writer and the next writer the same thing. Soon, there is a belief amongst editors and businesses, that it’s not necessary to pay for writers, and so they stop investing in the industry.

Problem #8: You contribute to poorer writing standards

You may be a top-notch writer, but not everyone is. When clients no longer believe they have to pay for writing services (see problem #7), they will go looking for people who will write for nothing or for very little. Those who are willing to work under these conditions are usually those who can’t write very well or simply sit and churn out article after article with little thought to the quality of their writing or their target audience. What we are left with, is a bunch of hacks writing content, and poorer writing standards.

Problem #9: You waste your education, experience and talents

How much time and money have you invested in gaining your skills as a writer? How long did your education take? How long have you been honing your craft? Remember, the whole point of gaining professional writing skills was so you could make a career out of it. So why would you suddenly agree to work for no pay, now you’re out on your own?

 

Some final warnings…

Before I move on to when it is okay to write for free (because sometimes it is), I want to warn you about a couple of tricks found in job ads for writers.

Trick #1: “We aren’t in a position to pay right now, but there is the potential for payment down the track”.

Don’t fall for it. The likelihood of you ending up being paid later on is remote.

Trick #2: “We aren’t currently making a profit right now, so we can’t pay our writers, but you’ll get your work noticed”.

Don’t fall for this one either. That’s like you going into Officeworks and telling them you’re just starting out as a freelance writer, so you can’t afford to buy all the office equipment and stationery you need. So, instead of monetary payment, you’d like to write an article about how awesome they are. Yeah. Not going to happen. Besides, if you landed a position at a not-for-profit organisation, they would still pay you a salary for the work you’d do.

 

When should you write for free?

Even though there are numerous problems when it comes to ‘gifting’ your writing services to others, there are a couple of circumstances when it is okay.

  1. You donate your services in-kind for a charitable or community organisation that you feel strongly about.
    There is nothing wrong with doing this. Many professional writers donate their services to support charities and their local community groups. It’s no different to volunteering or donating money.
  2. You provide free writing services as part of an internship.
    An internship is a great way to gain experience as a writer and to put together a portfolio. However, under the guise of internships, the person performing the work should be getting the main benefit of the arrangement. Further information about internships (paid and unpaid) can be found at https://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/unpaid-work/work-experience-and-internships

Finally, I came across this video which may help explain it in real life terms.

Don’t sell yourself short. Your writing is valuable and so is your experience.

If you’re not a writer, but would like to hire me (for money), please contact me. Not only will you receive high-quality writing with exceptional customer service, you’ll be entering a partnership with me which includes a promise to never take your business for granted.

Cheers
Nerissa

 

 

10 tips when writing for business

10 tips when writing for business

Writing copy for your business is very different from writing for other media. With many other companies competing with you for the same customers, it’s essential that your message hits all the right notes.

Here’s a list of things to consider when putting together your business communications.

1. Know your message

What do you want your potential and current customers to know? What’s the one key point you need to convey to them? While you probably have a few things you’d like to tell them, stick with the one message to avoid confusion.

2. Be clear

Once you are clear on your message, convey it with clear and concise writing. Use simple, easy-to-understand language, avoiding clichés and jargon. Write in short sentences and get right to the point. When your message is clear, you customers are informed.

3. Watch your tone

Ensure that your tone matches that of your audience. If you need to be authoritative, try not to be patronising. If you need to employ humour, ensure that it’s not full of corny ‘dad jokes’. Whatever tone you choose, your audience should feel a connection to you.

4. Remember your branding

What does your company stand for? What is your brand all about? Your written messages are another opportunity to increase your branding. Remember that when you write. If your brand is all about fun, then inject some fun into your message. If your brand is factual and scientific, ensure your message is factual as well.

5. Follow your style guide

This comes back to your branding, but ensure all your written communications follows the same style guide. Not sure what a style guide is? Put simply, it’s a list of ‘rules’ and ‘standards’ to follow with your writing, that promotes consistency, branding and marketing. If you want some tips on how to develop a style guide, click here.

6. Be professional

While standards of business communications have become more relaxed over recent years, always maintain a sense of professionalism. That means avoiding slang, text-speak, too many exclamation points (!!!), and language or topics that may offend.

7. Include a call to action

Don’t leave it to your readers to decide what to do next. Tell them. And make it easy for them. If you want them to call, then give the phone number. If you want them to email you, include a clickable link. If you want them to follow you on social media, include a clickable link. If you want them to visit their website — you got it — include a clickable link.

8. Don’t forget grammar and spelling

When you are busy paying attention to what you want to say, don’t forget about how you say it. Grammar and spelling really do matter. Communications that contain grammatical and spelling errors will only detract from your message.

9. Proofread before you send

Most of us do our best proofreading after we send — whether that be via email, social media or through the post. Check and double-check for errors before you disseminate anything. Some useful tips on proofreading can be found here.

10. Hire a freelancer

While this is not exactly a writing tip, it’s good to keep the option in the back of your mind. If writing is not your strong suit, or you simply don’t have the time to devote to crafting your message, consider hiring someone who can help. A good freelancer can help craft letters, blog articles, press releases, memos, training manuals, business letters or just about any other kind of writing you need.

Great writing is key for business. Using the tips above, you can greatly improve the likelihood of your key business messages hitting the right note.

However, if you would like help crafting communications for your business, please contact me. You’ll find I’m very easy to work with, and my rates will surprise you!

 

Cheers
Nerissa

The importance of a client brief

The importance of a client brief

You’ve done your due diligence and found a great copywriter who has loads of experience, has positive reviews and is within your budget. You’re feeling pretty happy with your decision and are excited to start working with them.

After contacting them and having initial discussions, you’re even more sure you’ve made the right decision.

But when the copywriter sends you a client briefing document and requests you fill in several pages of information, you start to wonder if you’ve made the right decision. After all, isn’t it the job of the copywriter to do the writing?

 

What is a brief and why do you need one?

Believe it or not, the fact that your copywriter has sent you a brief to fill in is a sign they are on top of their game.

A great copywriter is someone who will write copy that meets your needs — not theirs. Which is why they require a client brief.

A client brief is a bit like a road map. It contains directions, guidelines and pertinent information in order for your copywriter to come up with the content you are paying them for.

A client brief reduces the chances of ambiguity and misunderstandings when it comes to your content, eliminating the need for countless (and sometimes expensive) revisions and rewrites.

In short, the more information you provide, the better.

 

A brief is not…

While it’s important to understand the purpose of a client brief, it’s also important to understand what it’s not.

A brief is not:

  • A list of terms and conditions of engagement — that should be a separate document and something I will address in a future blog post
  • A contact of agreement:  — this too is a separate document which outlines the scope of the project, (including fees) which both parties need to sign.
  • A promise — while a good copywriter will produce great content according to your specifications, they cannot promise particular outcomes such as website hits and clicks, or sales.

 

What should you include?

There are no hard and fast rules about what a client brief should include. After all, every writing project is different. However, the following gives you a good idea on what type of questions you may be asked.

  • Your business: What is your business (e.g. what do you do, your core operations) and how long have you been in business?
  • Your brand: What does your brand stand for? What is your tone? What are your values?
  • Engagement objectives: What is the purpose of this communication? Are you looking for a specific outcome or action (e.g. increased sales), or do you want to increase your brand awareness, and increase brand loyalty?
  • Target audience: Who are your primary and secondary audiences (e.g. age, gender, socio-economic status)
  • Audience persona: What are their interests, concerns, or personality?
  • Campaign objectives: What are the key messages you want your consumers to receive regarding your brand or product?
  • Key messages: Are there any key messages you want to convey in your content? Are there any messages that must be avoided?
  • Key words: Are there any key words that must be used, or avoided?
  • Type of message: Is this communication a blog piece? Article? Advertorial? Report? Tender? News article?
  • Tone: What is the tone of the message? (e.g. friendly, authoritative, casual, formal, humorous, etc.)
  • Content channels: Where will the content be published? (e.g. online, blog, print, social media, advertising etc.) How will it be published? (e.g. bound report, booklet, loose-leaf binder, electronic)
  • Images/graphics: Are there any images or graphics that must accompany the content?
  • Style guidelines: Is there an in-house Style Guide that must be followed?
  • Research: Is credible research required for this communication?
  • Examples: Are there any examples of existing material that you like?
  • Brand ambassadors: Are there any brand ambassadors associated with your product/brand?
  • Scope of the project: How big is the project? (e.g. one-off report, blog or article) What is the word length?
  • Budget: What is your budget for this project?
  • Deadline: What is the deadline for the project?

 

You still need to be involved!

Once you have filled in as much information as possible, your copywriter will get busy doing what they need to do. However, don’t think that your job is over just yet! As you are the client, you will be required to provide ongoing feedback or ask any relevant questions for the scope of the project.

If your copywriter requests further information or clarification from you, it’s because it’s relevant to the project. They really aren’t messing with your head!

Oh, and if you have a deadline for this project, then it will be important to provide information, reviews or feedback in a timely manner, in order to meet that deadline. So make sure you factor that into the scope of the project.

 

Take the time to brief your copywriter

One of the reasons you engage a copywriter may be because you just don’t have time to do the job yourself. However, I highly recommend you take the time to fill out a client brief with as much detail as possible. It may take an hour or two, but in the end, the detail in that document could very well be the difference between mediocre copy and fabulous copy.

Speaking of fabulous copy…. if you’re ready to hire a great copywriter — and are willing to fill in a copy brief! — then please contact me.

If you’re still wondering if you should hire a copywriter, then 10 reasons why you should hire a copywriter may answer some of your questions.

Cheers
Nerissa

Building credibility as a writer

Building credibility as a writerAs a health writer, I come across thousands of health articles every year. Just googling the term ‘health blogs’ brings up 628,000,000 (yes, 628 million) results.

That is a huge amount of web pages.

More and more people are turning to the internet for information, particularly health information. The internet can be a fantastic resource for information on health and wellness. However, there are countless websites containing inaccurate, unreliable and even dangerous information.

The problem with online health information

Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) is just one of these websites filled with inaccurate information. This free-content encyclopedia, offers information on a wide range of topics, including health and wellness. It is the most popular general reference site on the internet with 439 million unique visitors every month, as of June 2015[1].

However, its popularity does not assure accuracy, as a 2014 study discovered. Researchers found that 90 per cent of the information for costly medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, lung cancer, major depressive disorder, osteoarthritis) was incorrect. [2]

A further study found that information on Wikipedia relating to drugs was often incorrect and outdated. [3]

What is even worse is there are thousands of bloggers out there writing about health topics, who either don’t have a background in health, or don’t bother to fully research their subject matter.

I’m sure the same could be said for the majority of industries.

An opportunity to build credibility

If you are a freelance writer, lack of high-quality information provides you with an enormous opportunity to build your credibility.

Not all information found on the web is inaccurate. However, if you know how to source information from credible sources, you can use this to your advantage.

Knowing how to search the internet efficiently, source research studies, read and interpret research studies, and quote your references is a valuable skill, so do not underestimate it. In a world where unreliable information is everywhere, use your skills to stand out from the crowd.

A case study

Building credibility as a writerRecently one of my clients asked me to write an article on orthorexia. If you are unfamiliar with that term, orthorexia describes those who are unhealthily obsessed with healthy eating. I had some basic knowledge of the subject, but needed to do quite a bit of research to garner enough information to write an article about it.

One of the sources I used was the website written by Dr Steven Bratman, MD, who first coined the term ‘orthorexia’. He is a world-renown expert in the area. I used information from Google analytics, as well as information from the Dietitians Association of Australia and the U.S.-based National Eating Disorders Association. In total, I had seven references to back up a 1,000-word article.

Somehow, Dr Bratman discovered the article I had written and read it.

On my client’s website where the article was published, he wrote: “This is really an excellent article on orthorexia — and I can be quite critical! Well done.”

He then tweeted the article twice, stating: “Nice article on #orthorexia.” and “In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is an excellent article on #orthorexia”.

Taking the time to thoroughly research the article, and attribute my sources resulted in a high-quality, accurate article, and the world-renown expert in the area singing its praises. My client was pretty stoked, particularly as her article was shared and her website received extra traffic.

You have to be happy with that.

Regardless of what field you write for, thoroughly researching and referencing your articles is a very easy but powerful way to build your brand and your credibility as a writer. And the more credibility you build, the more work you can generate.

We would love to help you out with high-quality, fully researched and referenced blogs or articles for your business. Just contact us.

Cheers

Nerissa

References:

[1] Wikipedia: About, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About, accessed 22 July 2015

[2] R T Hasty, R C Garbalosa, V A Barbato, P J Valdes Jr, D W Powers, E Hernandez, J S John, G Suciu, F Quereshi, M Popa-Radu, S San Jose, N Drexler, R Patankar, J R Paz, C W King, H N Gerber, M G Valladares, A A Somji, Wikipedia vs Peer-Reviewed Medical Literature for Information About the 10 Most Costly Medical Conditions, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, May 2014, Vol. 114, pp368-373 http://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2094583, accessed 22 July 2015

[3] T J Hwang, F T Bourgeois, J D. Seeger, Drug Safety in the Digital Age, The New England Journal of Medicine, 26 June 2014, Vol. 370. pp2460-2462, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1401767, accessed 22 July 2015

Why spelling matters – even when it comes to coffee

Yes, yes. Spelling matters, but only for the ‘important stuff’, right?

Wrong.

You see when it comes to communication, everything is important.

Your spelling ability (or lack thereof) is a direct reflection of you, your standards and your business.

Rightly or wrongly, people will judge you according to your use of the English language. They will also make assumptions about who you are, how you run your business, how reliable your products are and how interested you are in your potential customers.

How do I know this?

Because I do it all the time.

I’m the first to admit I am a bit of a Grammar Nazi. Spotting spelling errors in a piece of writing (particularly marketing material), is a bit of sport for me. Sometimes the errors are funny; sometimes they are hilarious. But most of the time, they just make me cringe.

Berrie muffuns and cappachino

On a road trip earlier this year, I came across the following in a McDonalds store:

Why spelling matters

What is a mixed berrie muffun?

Professional? Hardly.

While most people would probably laugh off the mistake and realise that they were offering a ‘mixed berry muffin’, I for one deliberately avoided said ‘berrie muffun’.

The poor spelling made me feel the people behind the counter were careless, uninterested and slap-dash. I felt if they were not interested in the details that the customer actually saw, how attentive would they be when it came to policies, procedures and health regulations that the customer does not see?

I felt if they weren’t interested enough to check the sign promoting their wares, they obviously wouldn’t be interested in me, the paying customer.

They lost a sale from me because of their spelling error.

Here is another sign I came across while travelling:

Spelling matters

What is a cappachino?

Do you see what is wrong with it?

I was going to order a cappuccino, until I saw they were selling ‘cappachino’. I figured that if they couldn’t spell it, they certainly couldn’t make it. And so I left the shop empty-handed.

Certainly, the above are small examples, but both instances resulted in a lost sale and left me with a negative impression of their business.

However every now and then, a spelling error can spell (pun intended) disaster.

The importance of an ‘s’

Earlier this year, an extra letter ‘s’ caused a 124-year-old Welsh family business to go bust, leaving the UK government with a £9 million ($17 million) legal bill.

In 2009, Companies House, part of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, mistakenly recorded that the engineering firm Taylor & Sons Ltd, had been wound up.

In reality, it was another unrelated company Taylor & Son Ltd (not Sons), that had gone broke.

However, despite Companies House trying to correct the error three days later, the damage was done. The company had already lost credibility with their suppliers, with all 3000 of them terminating orders and credit facilities were withdrawn. Within two months of the spelling error, the company went into administration.

In January of this year, a High Court judge ruled that Companies House was legally responsible for Taylor & Sons’ catastrophic loss of business and ultimate collapse. They are now facing a multi-million dollar legal bill.

Spelling matters

Whether you are selling coffee, muffins or own a multi-million dollar company, spelling matters.

Correct spelling successfully communicates your message, while incorrect spelling distracts and confuses.

The way you spell displays your standards of business to potential customers. Correct spelling leaves a good impression of your values, your branding and your business. Incorrect spelling causes potential customers to question how seriously you do business and how attentive to detail you may be.

Like it or not, the way you spell may be the difference between gaining a customer and losing one.

In a world where businesses are madly competing against each other and first impressions count, spelling matters. In many respects content is not king — appearance is. How often do you judge someone, or something based on appearance alone? That’s why spelling counts.

Even if you are the poorest speller on the planet, it is your job to ensure the words you use are spelled correctly.

You can use dictionaries (the old-fashioned kind, or the online versions); you can use spell-checker (although this has its limitations); and you can get someone else to proof your work — preferably someone who can spell!

Just make sure your work is free from spelling errors.

If you need help with proofing, editing or spelling, contact us today — and we will be happy to lend a hand.

Cheers

Nerissa

Why your business needs a style guide

Why your business needs a style guideNo, we are not talking about fashion. Although having personal stylist would come in handy some days.

The kind of style guide we are talking about is one that applies to your writing. If you write anything (regardless of your industry), you need a style guide. Even if you are working solo and do all the writing yourself, you still need a style guide. If you have multiple people writing for your business or brand, a style guide is vital.

What is a style guide?

In its simplest form, a style guide is a set of ‘rules’ and ‘standards’ to follow with your writing. It promotes consistency in your writing, your branding and your marketing. Consistency is vital across all media channels — websites, emails, letters, social media, blogs, newsletters, reports, etc. — as it fosters professionalism and high standards in your business.

What does a style guide contain?

How long is a piece of string? Seriously, your style guide can contain whatever you want it to contain, from spelling right through to your logo and branding. However, the most common thing style guides contain, are the following:

Language/Style — what voice do you use in your writing? Is it conversational or formal? Is it professional or hip? Knowing who your audience is and understanding their needs will help you decide.

Spelling — what spelling format will you follow? Aus English, UK English or US English. Some words are spelt differently in different countries (e.g. ‘colour’ for Australia and ‘color’ for US). You audience will largely dictate which form to use. Some style guides have a section devoted to words commonly used in their writing. Resembling a dictionary, it provides a quick reference guide on which words to use or avoid, and the preferred spelling (including capitalisation).

Numbers — don’t forget about numbers because they will pop up more than you think. The most accepted style of writing numbers is to write one to nine in words and 10 and above in numbers.

How will you express dates? Is it ‘1 January 2015’ or ‘1/1/15’ or even ‘January 1, 2015’?

What about fractions? Is it ‘1 1/2’ or ‘1.5’?

There is also the question of time and currency. And don’t forget about percentages. Will you use the more accepted ‘per cent’ or the symbolic ‘%’?

Common words and abbreviations — depending upon what industry you are in, there are bound to be some words that you use more often than others. For example, in the health-writing niche the following are commonly used:

* well-being Vs wellbeing

* wholegrain Vs whole grain

* type 2 diabetes Vs type II diabetes

* dietitian Vs dietician

* vegies Vs veggies

There may be no hard and fast rule as to which form to use. You simply need to decide upon one and stick with it.

You also need to decide upon your style when it comes to abbreviations. The most commonly used are ‘e.g.’ (example) and ‘i.e.’ (for instance).

You may also use abbreviations for organisations within your writing — for example, the World Health Organisation (WHO). Because some organisations may have the same abbreviation (Country Fire Authority and Continence Foundation of Australia), it is always wise to spell out the organisation in full with the abbreviation in brackets afterwards. Once you have spelled it out in full, simply use the abbreviation when referring to that organisation for the remainder of your piece of writing.

 Formatting — this means what font you use, the colour and the size. It also refers to your paragraph spacing, underlining, and use of dot points. How will you write your headings? Will they be bold or in UPPERCASE?

Logos — If you have a logo (and what business doesn’t), you need to be clear about how it is used. Things to consider are colour logos, black and white logos, sizing, etc. Your logo is part of your branding so ensure it is consistent across all forms of media. Some brands have different components to their logo, so if this is true for you ensure you know how and when each component is used.

Referencing — If your writing tends to draw upon references, know how you will attribute them. For example, do you refer to the source in-text (e.g. according to the Heart Foundation….) or do you use endnotes (e.g. Heart disease is the leading killer of Australians 1). There are also different referencing styles, so decide which one you are going to use and be consistent with its use.

Developing a style guide may take time and effort. However, it is time and effort well worth spending if you want to develop a professional and consistent brand.

Need to develop a style guide but not sure where to begin? We would love to help. Simply contact us and we will be in touch.

Cheers

Nerissa

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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