Write … to the Point

– writing tips and tricks

Archive for the category “Credibility”

How to spot a good copywriter

How to spot a good copywriter

Unless you’ve been given a personal recommendation, it can be hard to know if the copywriter you’ve chosen is good at their craft or not.

While spelling and grammar are both important when it comes to copywriting, they aren’t the only measures of success you should be looking for. So to help you discern the good writers from the hacks, here are a few qualities to look out for.

 

They have a portfolio

A good copywriter will have a portfolio (e.g. samples of published work) and will be happy to share it with you. They should also be happy to provide you with a list of clients they have worked with. Understand however, that due to the nature of some projects, writers aren’t always able to provide you with actual copy they have written for some clients. In this case, client testimonials may also work well.

 

They prefer to work to a brief

An experienced writer will ask for and prefer to work to, a client brief. A brief is important for both parties. It contains vital information to assist the copywriter to come up with the type of content you are seeking. It will also save you money, as it reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings, and the need for expensive re-writes and revisions.

 

They ask questions

You know you’ve found someone who will do a good job when they ask questions and seek clarification when they are unclear on something. Steer clear of the copywriter who seems self-assured and seems to ‘know it all’ when it comes to your needs — unless of course you have delivered a very detailed client brief to them!

 

They know how to research and reference their work

The craft of copywriting sometimes requires the writer to undertake research. This is particularly the case when it comes to health and medical writing. If your content needs some background research, make sure the writer you engage knows how to research, where to research, and how to correctly reference this information. After all, YOU will be responsible for the accuracy of the end copy, not the writer you hire.

 

They have a good understanding of the industry they are writing about

This is not a pre-requisite, but it does help. Engaging someone who understands your industry will save you time and money. For example, if you need someone to write about diabetes, hiring a health writer who understands the key health concerns facing the general population will result in better and cheaper copy, than someone who specialises in financial technology. Better, because they are familiar with the topic and the health concerns unique to diabetes, and cheaper because they won’t need to spend as much time researching the topic as the fin-tech expert.

 

They are flexible, yet firm

Flexible but firm? Yes. Your copywriter should be reasonably flexible when it comes to considering suggested changes and revisions to text. They should also understand that you, as their client, have other priorities to juggle, which may mean you can’t always drop everything to attend to their queries.

However, they should be firm when it comes to providing you with a quote, their terms and conditions of contract, as well as changing deadlines, or the scope or focus of the project. If the deadline or scope of the project must change, then you should both negotiate these changes. Chances are, they are juggling more than just your project, and need to fit your needs in with the needs of their other paying clients.

 

They focus on building a partnership

When engaging a copywriter, you should want more out of the relationship than just good copy. Look for someone who views your working relationship as a partnership. While price is obviously a factor in hiring someone, having a good working relationship with someone who understands your brand, your needs and the way you work is priceless. Once you find someone like that do all you can to keep them. You will find they will go the extra mile for you.

 

By all means, the above isn’t an exhaustive list but it will certainly give you a few things to think about when selecting a copywriter.

Want to know if you’re a copywriter’s dream client, then click here.

And if you’re ready to work with me, or have some questions, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers
Nerissa

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7 things you need to be a great health writer

A tablet computer on a desk - Health and Medical

If you’re new to freelance writing, you may be wondering whether it’s better to develop a niche, or to keep your market wide open.

For a newbie, developing a niche market can seem scary. After all, it does mean a smaller pool of potential clients. And when you’re starting out, you need all the clients you can get, right?

Not always.

Developing a niche can be one of the best things you can do for your freelance business. It means you no longer have to be ‘all things to all people’. Instead, you focus on becoming an expert in area or field. This means you can more effectively market yourself and bring in more clients than before.

If you have already been working in a particular industry or field, you may have already developed your niche. You just don’t know it yet.

That’s how I developed mine. During the 3 ½ years I wrote for a corporate wellness company, I developed many skills that most freelancers don’t have. And so when I eventually went out on my own, I decided to utilise these skills and market myself as a health writer.

 

The future of health writing

Personally, I believe health writing has a bright future. It’s no secret the healthcare industry is booming right now. A combination of an ageing population, along with an increased interest in health and well-being, has made this one of the fastest-growing industries.

As a result, there are more companies and agencies popping up devoted to healthcare. Along with them, are many more opportunities for health writers. Potential clients can range from pharmaceutical clients to health-related brands, through to government health organisations and private practitioners.

 

What makes a good health writer?

However, just because there are health writing opportunities doesn’t mean you are right for the job. If you want to make it as a health writer, there’s a few key attributes that may come in handy.

 

  1. Have an interest in health
    It sounds simple but it’s true. You really need to have some kind of interest in health. If you’re not interested in what you’re writing about, you’re going to find your work pretty boring.

 

  1. Know your market
    Who will you be writing for? While you may write the odd thing for an overseas client, chances are you will be focusing on content here in Australia, so you need to understand your market. What are the primary health concerns facing Australians? What barriers do we face when it comes to improving our health? Does our culture influence our health? Knowing your audience will help you tailor your content accordingly.

 

  1. Know how to research
    I can’t emphasize enough the importance of researching health content. There is so much conflicting advice in the health arena, it’s crazy. Many writers base their content on anecdotal evidence rather than fact. Or they simply rewrite copy from other websites without checking the facts. Publishing incorrect health information not only leads to lost credibility, but it may lead to a loss of income, or even a hefty lawsuit!

 

  1. Only use credible sources of information
    The information you present is only as good as the sources you glean it from. When researching health articles, ensure you use only credible sources of information, such as peak health bodies, government websites, or internationally accredited organisations. A newspaper report, or information posted on someone else’s blog is not credible.

 

  1. Be able to interpret scientific studies
    This skill goes hand in hand with researching. Being able to read and interpret scientific studies is a valuable skill. Referencing bona fide health studies improves your credibility as a writer, and adds weight to your story. Your readers will walk away knowing the information you presented to them is true. They also have a reference to go to if they wish to read further on the subject.

 

  1. Write in simple language
    When it comes to all writing, simple is best. When it comes to health writing, simple is a must. Writing on health, disease and illness can involve a lot of complex information. As a health writer, it is your job to ‘de-code’ this information, and write it in a form that the average person can understand.

 

  1. Write to empower
    While you are busy translating complicated information into an easy-to-understand format, please take the time to write it in a way that will empower the reader, rather than frighten them. There are many topics that are quite scary for the average reader, so it is your job to present the information in a way that will inform, not scare.

    As a health writer, my job is to present accurate, up-to-date health information in a way that is easily understood. I also see it as my role to empower and inspire people to make a change to their personal circumstances. By all means present facts (i.e. we all know that smoking causes cancer), but present them in a way that empowers and inspires change, instead of trying to ‘scare’ people into action.

 

Writer or blogger?

Finally, you need to know whether you are a writer or a blogger? You can actually be both, but you are likely to be more one than the other. If you are a blogger, then you probably have your own following and know your readers quite well. Your readers probably know your brand and what you stand for. You will also be used to writing in one ‘voice’ and this will be understood and embraced by your readers.

If you are primarily a writer, you need to be more diverse in your skills. You may be asked to write on a range of different topics and for a range of different clients. Each client will have a different target audience and therefore a different ‘angle’ for their story. They may also want you to use a different ‘voice’ (i.e. informative, expert etc.).

Knowing which category you fall into will make it easier for you to adjust your writing style accordingly.

So there you have it. My 7 tips for being a great health writer.

And if you are looking to engage a great health writer, please contact me. I’d love to help.

 

Cheers

Nerissa

 

Health writers or hacks? 5 ways to sort fact from fiction

Health writer or hack? How to discern fact from fiction

There’s no doubt the health and wellness industry is booming right now.

An ageing population, coupled with greater awareness of the importance of staying healthy for life has contributed to an explosion in the number of healthcare, wellbeing and fitness business popping up all across the country.

Part of this this movement towards greater health and wellbeing is a plethora of ‘wellness warriors’, ‘health bloggers’, and other individuals writing articles and providing advice relating to health and medical matters.

But are these credible sources for information on health? And are those who write these types of articles qualified to provide such advice?

 

The problem with wellness warriors and bloggers

Firstly, let me state, there is nothing wrong with having an interest in health, wellbeing and alternative therapies. There is nothing wrong with using alternative therapies, and there is also nothing wrong with reading health information on the internet.

However, what you may not realise is a lot of information relating to health and wellness (and even medical conditions) found on the internet is inaccurate, unfounded, unproven, untrue, and downright dangerous.

Sometimes articles contain claims based on anecdotal evidence. Sometimes information presented is old and outdated. Sometimes it is based on pseudoscience, or ‘popular opinion’. At its worst, the health and wellbeing arena is riddled with claims and scaremongering tactics aimed at playing on people’s vulnerabilities and designed to lighten consumers’ wallets.

A recent case of ‘wellness warrior’ turned sour is that of Belle Gibson. A self-proclaimed health guru who claimed to have ‘cured’ her terminal brain cancer through healthy eating and natural therapies, finally admitted last year (2015) that all her claims were untrue.

Ms Gibson had a thriving business based on these false claims. She developed an app and companion cookbook, and wrote a blog on the subject. She also made a lot of money based on her lies. But until her story finally unravelled, thousands of people had put their trust in her.

 

How to determine if an article is credible

Ms Gibson is not the only person to make fake or incorrect claims regarding health and medical information. There are thousands of wellness bloggers, or website owners doing the same thing. Heck, even journalists get information incorrect from time to time.

And while innocent mistakes can be expected occasionally, health information is too important to get wrong the majority of the time.

Here are the top five ways you can determine if the information you are reading is likely to be credible.

  1. Is the writer sticking to facts or voicing an opinion?

A credible health writer will stick to the facts rather than voice their opinion. They will also write in a way to present the facts and empower the reader to make a positive health change if necessary. They will not use scaremongering tactics, nor pressure you to purchase a product or a service.

 As soon as there is a ‘sales pitch’, then it’s a safe bet that the information is biased towards getting you to make a purchase.

  1. Does the article use accredited sources of information?

Any health writer worth their salt will always defer to a credible source for health information. Even better, they will attribute, facts and figures to that source. For example, it’s easy to write :

“one in six Australians are affected by cardiovascular disease”.

But how do you know this is accurate?

A credible health article will refer to the source of the information in the body of the article:

“According to the Heart Foundation, one in six Australians are affected by cardiovascular disease”.

Credible sources of information can include peak health bodies and organisations, federal government websites, well-known medical schools and universities.

Other ‘wellness’ websites and blogs, newspaper reports and anecdotal evidence are NOT credible.

 

  1. Does the article link in with current information?

Great health articles make use of current research statistics. What is deemed as ‘current’? Anything published within the last three years. Medical information changes so quickly these days. With new research being published and statistics updated almost annually, there is no excuse to use old, outdated information.

However, some information and reports are only updated every few years, particularly if they are drawn from surveys that are conducted every few years (i.e. The Australian Census). If this is the case, always state which year your statistics are coming from.

 

  1. Does the article refer to current research?

Just like using current information, a good health writer will back up claims with current research. When citing research studies, the body of the article should mention what year the study was published and which organisation published it. The link to the original source of the study (not a news report or media release) should be included in references at the bottom of the article.

  1. Does the writer include a list of references?

A great health writer will attribute all sources of their information. The reasons for doing this are three-fold — firstly, to add credibility and weight to their story; secondly, to allow readers to search for further information if they need it; and thirdly, to cover themselves in case any of the information is incorrect or no longer current by the time the article is published.

 

A final word…

It’s important to remember not to believe everything you read online. Just because it’s published does not make it true. Even the best health and medical writers may make simple errors.

Health information found online should only ever be used as a guide (and only when you deem it to be credible). Your doctor is the best person to advise you about your personal health concerns and no amount of online ‘research’ should replace your own doctor’s medical opinion.

If you find information that contradicts your doctor’s advice, then speak to them about it. Don’t simply take the word of a ‘health blogger’, or ‘wellness warrior’, no matter how long they have been blogging or how many followers they have.

If you want to engage an experienced health and medical writer for your project, contact me. I’d love to help you out and ensure your content is factual and up-to-date.

Cheers

Nerissa

 

 

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

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

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