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Hello {name}! Welcome to the first 2012 edition of business writing ideas from Word Constructions! Word Constructions eBooks

What does a new year mean to you? Is it a time for planning, tidying and preparing for the next 12 months, or is it just the half way point of the financial year? With summer, school holidays and many businesses closed or offering reduced hours, January is a quiet period for many small business owners. Add in the buzz of new year resolutions and it does become a good time to reassess and plan ahead. Personally, I have been catching up on some reading and sorting my desk and computer. Not only does it prepare my business for the year ahead, it gives me some less pressured time to think, plan and be creative so I quite enjoy this time of year in my business.

Looking back, I am pleased with 2011 overall - as well as client work, I have done some work on my website (changes are still underway), launched some eBooks (and more of them are underway, too) and learnt a lot about social media. I'm looking forward to new challenges in 2012 and helping more businesses communicate effectively (through writing their materials or consulting with them). Do you have any challenges lined up for this year?

You may be interested to read some predictions for social media and content marketing for 2012 - comments from more than 75 marketing experts gives a good perspective of what's possible. Google +, mobile sites and video are expected to do well, and I am pleased to think long-form content is coming back (although very short snippets via Twitter has a lot of value in my eyes). Life will certainly be easier if Ahava Leibtag's prediction of social media convergence is correct - maintaining multiple profiles is a big time commitment for small business people.

Until next time, use your words wisely and have a successful and prosperous 2012,

Tash

PS What would you like to read during the year? If you have any specific questions for me or general feedback about this newsletter please let me know and I'll do what I can to answer you in the coming months.

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You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down,
but the staying down.
~ Mary Pickford


business communications article by Tash Hughes

Blogging your way into 2012
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

The term social media brings up sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr for many people. However, blogging is not only part of social media but an influential and important part.

Whether you are just starting a blog for your business, have tried blogging without much success so far or just want more ideas for your existing blog, you can do some work now to set your blog up for 2012 success.

Here are a few of the things I am doing (or have done recently) for my blog:

  • choose some key topics to blog about - choose topics related to whatever you most want to sell this year (for example a web designer may choose to focus on ecommerce sites or blog templates rather than generic websites)
  • sit and write at least 12 posts on each key topic, scheduling one post per month. Write 12 different posts (not just different words for the same information) and remember to add links between them - as much as possible, make two or three posts topical as well. Maybe your February post can include some romantic tips or your May post can be aimed at office professionals (12 May is National Office Professionals' Day in Australia)
  • if more related topics come to mind, write them or at least jot down some notes so you can write them later in the year
  • spend some time gathering images and making them available for your blog (upload them to your site or have them in a separate file to upload as required) - finding images can take a lot of time and you often won't have spare time when writing a new blog post so a store will save you stress and time. There are numerous royalty-free sites (I mainly use big stock photo and 123rf) you can visit but taking your own pictures will save you money and give you an original that won't pop up on competitors' sites.
  • look at your statistics to find out your ten most popular posts (if you have an existing blog!) One by one, read those posts, correct any errors you notice, check they have good keywords and descriptions attached, consider adding an image and decide what has worked so well for that post. The idea is two-fold - improve those popular pages so they attract even more traffic and shares, plus learn what makes those pages so popular so you can duplicate your success
  • choose another five posts that you would like to be more popular (maybe they showcase your selling point well, include testimonials or answer a common question). Review these posts, correcting errors, adding more keywords, use sub-headings and other devices to make them more readable, add images and so on. Then go to other posts and parts of your website and add more links to those posts. If any of these posts are getting a bit old, find a way to write a new post with that information or related information that lets you link back to the original (for example, write a post along the lines of 'last March I blogged about widgets but since then we've added this new feature')
  • spend some time building external links to your blog - you could join some carnivals, get involved in guest blogging, comment on selected blogs or just use your blog URL in online directories and signatures

What other suggestions do you have for setting good foundations for a blog?



Have you thought about some training or skills development for 2012? Online courses are great to fit around business and other commitments - if you have the discipline to study!


don't forget the basics

Hyperlinks
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

Hyperlinks are one of the great things about the internet - a simple click will take you to related information anywhere on the net in a way that books just can't duplicate. Hyperlinks are easy to add when creating a website or blog post (I won't explain how here as it varies between software and platforms).

For the best use of hyperlinks:

  1. don't use too many on one page as it looks cluttered and too much choice is overwhelming
  2. use meaningful text for your links - 'read about using a professional writer' works better than 'click here'
  3. underline them so people can quickly recognise them
  4. links to other sites show your generosity in giving information and help your SEO (search engines reward outward links as well as incoming links)
  5. avoid links most people can't follow
  6. use links to specific pages or even a specific part of a page so people go straight to the information you are referring to - if they have to search for it they will lose interest


I've had great service and support from this host for clients and they helped me move my site there, too - affordable, great service and green, what more could I ask for?


poor examples

Sometimes, the easiest way to learn the correct way to do something is to see it done poorly so in this section of my newsletter, I show you some real-life examples of writing that need a little help.

I found today's example on the sales page of a software site - see if it makes sense to you...

Example:

Having passed a long way towards a new interface concept, we have achieved the goal to ease and boost the web site management.

The Smart Interface preserves all the capabilities to which that our clients got used. It makes the work comfortable and pleasant for both newbies and professionals.

The Smart Interface fully satisfies the contemplated requirements and is positively accepted by the users.

Issues with this example:

In short, it is wordy and hard to read. Terms such as capabilities, interface, contemplated and concept are buzz words - they may look impressive and imply you have superior knowledge but really they are empty when used like this. People don't want to be impressed by a company's vocabulary - they want to understand what they are buying, how it will help them and whether it is a safe purchase.

Specifically, we could improve this text by:

  1. making it clear when the text applies. 'Having passed a long way towards a ... concept' implies they are working on it and making progress; 'have achieved the goal" implies it is finished; 'preserves capabilities ... fully satisfies ...positively accepted' implies the software is available on the market. There is no clarity about whether the software is still in development, testing or widely available.
  2. not starting two paragraphs in a row with 'The'
  3. using good grammar - 'that our clients got used' is poorly expressed and should at least be 'that our clients got used to' or preferably 'that our clients were used to'.
  4. shortening 'capabilities to which that our clients...' to four words - 'capabilities which our clients...' is shorter and simpler. The words which and that are basically the same in this context so using both is unnecessary repetition
  5. making it clear what the interface will do or satisfy - 'fully satisfies the contemplated requirements' doesn't actually tell me anything as I don't know what requirements they have contemplated!
  6. generally using simpler words and aiming for concise communication and not just filling a page with impressive words

An improved version would be: (based on my interpretation of what they were trying to communicate)

After a long time refining our concept, we have made the website management easier while keeping all the features currently enjoyed by clients. Our new Smart Interface is pleasant and easy for new and professional users. It meets all our stated objectives* and has been positively accepted by existing clients.

*Our objectives were...


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2012, Tash Hughes