Proofreading Tips

Are you in the habit of checking your work emails before you click send? If you don’t, you probably should. It could negatively affect your business.

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Image via Pexels.com

Simple typos like ‘teh’ can look unprofessional, especially when you are corresponding with a client or other third party. Ideally, you want to present yourself as a professional and should communicate as such. People are judgemental bastards. People suck.

Of course, there are situations when you can relax and bend the grammatical rules. Consider your relationship and rapport with the recipient. When in doubt, ask a colleague to review your message.

The following proofreading tips are appropriate for anything from EDMs and manuscripts to speeches and newsletters.

Read from the End to the Start

How do you read backwards? Ah, no. When you proofread a document you are most likely very familiar with it because you wrote it. By the time you scour the page for errors you are probably skipping over the words and missing obvious mistakes.

To alleviate this terrible affliction, we recommend that you ask our Copywriting Commander for treatment. The cure comes in the form of reading the last sentence and then backtracking one sentence at a time until you find yourself back at the beginning of the article.

Rather than go with the flow, this method forces you to take the time think about each sentence in isolation.

Perform an Oral Presentation

Get your head out of the gutters. At Word Tweak, we leave the dirty talk for our short fiction and poetry. While self editing a thing, read it out loud. If you trip over the words, consider the poor reader. Are there pacing issues? Too many long-winded sentence stuctures? Too many short bursts that look like a Morse code decryption?

Refine your message, yo.

Use Browser Extensions and Other Tools to Cheat

Some people just need a spell checker for assurance. Did I spell ‘onomatopoeia’ correctly? What about ‘Mussolini’ or ‘squirrel’? Hitting up Google can be time consuming and disruptive so why not install Grammarly or an alternative web app? If you care about AU spelling then Grammarly will probably aggravate you (if you’re a passionate Australian wordsmith like me).

Print It; Read It; Change It; Send It

Do you hate the environment? Fuck the trees, man. Print that shit. Print everything. your eyes are probably not liking the whole gotta-read-everything-on-the-computer-screen thing anyway. Wow, that escalated quickly.

Scribble on paper and mark up your changes.

Kill Redundant Phrases

The best communications are short and sweet. I often see ‘in order to’ when ‘to’ would suffice. yes, there are exceptions, especially when looking at creative writing (but we’ll discuss voice another time).

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Did our advice help? Did it hinder? Get in touch with us today to learn more about online marketing and creating engaging content.

 

 

 

Solutions are the Bane of a Copywriter’s Existence

Solutions are the bane of a copywriter’s existence. Businesses in the commercial and industrial sectors, in particular, like to boast about how their products and services will solve all your problems. And why wouldn’t they? Consumers need a reason to invest in you. If your shit doesn’t solve a problem then what’s the point, right?

Maybe it’s the repetition of the word ‘solutions’ that really clots my ink pot. Look around you. Surf the web and browse your favourite sheet metal fabrication company’s home page. Chances are, they probably talk about solutions that are more solutiony than their rival solutionators.

So what do you do to escape the popular solution crowd? Sometimes you just can’t avoid it. The answer is moderation. Think about how you use the troublesome noun. Rather than be vague about your solution, spell it out. Tell us precisely what you mean.

When you start using jargon and fancy keyword strings in your copy you will notice that the sentences become longer and harder to read. Where possible, avoid complicating your writing. Corporate and technical content does not have to be inacessible. You want to engage readers, yes?

Looking at blocks of incoherent text on-screen for hours can make it difficult to objectively edit so I recommend the Hemingway App. Simply copy, paste and cry as you look at the colourful highlights that show you where there’s too much passive voice, shitty adverbs and more.

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I should practice what I preach …

So, is this a good solution for your solution woes?

Chip Off The Old Writer’s Block

Writer’s block can cripple your daily output (if you let it). Let’s face it, we all have our productive and not-so-productive days. A professional copywriter is expected to perform at a fairly consistent standard to satisfy clients, colleagues and other stakeholders. There is an unwritten expectation that when you do endure a creative slump you make up for lost time. Writing is, after all, a discipline.

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You lack discipline

Wordsmiths that care about their content will do the extra time when called upon. Is that a fair expectation in this digital age where parents are juggling copywriting briefs over family obligations?

‘At least one parent usually worked some hours from home in 63% of couple families where both parents were working. Some parents worked from home to balance work and caring responsibilities, while for others it was a way to catch up on work or meet deadlines.’

Blowing out project hours is not an ideal trend. But neither is working beyond your capacity. Setting realistic expectations with all parties concerned is the best way to avoid burning out.

Set yourself up for success. Here are some helpful tips for powering through a rough day/week/month.

Spotify While You Workify

Thanks to the almighty cloud, and the Swedish, the commercial music distribution service Spotify lets you listen to all sorts of tunes while you endure your daily grind. Sure, the trial version will pester you with advertising but then there’s the oh-so-sweet premium option for those willing to shell out to rock out.

The world is a noisy place. And it’s easy to get distracted.

Rather than let nature sabotage your work ethic, listen to a film score, or better yet, Neil Hawker.

Saturating your ears with jazz, funk—whatever—does amazing things to your creativity and can help you overcome writer’s block. Do try it.

Take a Break; Have Condensed Milk

Rot your teeth with Nestlé’s finest and let the sugar flow through you. If you’re diabetic, or prone to experience unpleasantness as a result of excessive sugar consumption, then leave the condensed milk alone. That’s more sweetness for Word Tweak.

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This room is reserved for free thinking

Sometimes you just need to languish, undisturbed, in your mind palace for a little while. Constantly stressing over the same details will ruin your chances of being productive. Step away from your work area. Take an early break. Take a late break. Everybody break, break, break, break, break.

Try Something Else

Quit. Embark on a new career. Alternatively, look at your queue and play with another project. We tend to to-and-fro between multiple projects each day because it’s refreshing to think about different industries and ideas.

The brain likes to be nourished. So nourish it with variety.

When you return to the dreaded task you’ll be looking at it from a fresh perspective and you might even discover a new angle of attack. Or you might be better off job seeking.

Set Achievable Goals

We touched on this earlier. Setting achievable goals is all about realistic expectations. This can be as broad or defined as you want it to be. You might be looking down the barrel of a deadline and you can smell the cordite.

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When a deadline is about to immolate your face

Break down your lofty targets into bite-sized objectives. When you fixate on the small things you won’t be stressing about the greater whole. Instead, you will find yourself becoming more organised and better positioned to provide regular and realistic updates.

Celebrate Success

Is stress gripping your thoughts like a vice? How can something tangible hold something intangible? That was a terrible metaphor.

Let’s try again (minus the flowery tripe). It’s easy to forget about everything you have accomplished to get to where you are. Don’t let your achievements and sacrifices all be for nought.

Reflect on your #winning moments and rekindle that creative passion. A positive outlook can do wonders when you are staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor.

Celebrating your successes can also help stop you from publishing horrible figurative language.

What do you do to overcome writer’s block?

Sources

  1. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features50Sep+2009
  2. Images via pexels.com

 

How To Use Pain Points Without Hurting Your Business

Any eCommerce website or business that sells products online can benefit from landing page copy that speaks to the reader’s needs. Simply listing your entire inventory is not enough to entice your prospects. Sure, you might score the odd sale here and there from regulars but if you want to significantly boost your conversion potential you should discuss pain points.

Do you know what pain points are? Let me give you a hint; in the context of content marketing they don’t refer to paper cuts or minor abrasions unless you are selling an adhesive bandage solution. Pain points are typically problems that advertising creatives rely on to sell compelling reasons to invest in a product or service.

Elaborate on a lame, ridiculous problem that your business can solve and consumers won’t take you seriously. Just think of all those terrible TV infomercials.

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Image via http://www.infomercial-hell.com

Yeah, don’t do that. Dump that idea.

Consider these fun ideas.

Identify Pain Points

How can your clients benefit from your products and services? You may already have a list. If so, that’s great. Refine that list and use those examples to tell a story that persuades your audience to invest in your solutions.

If you are struggling with brainstorming authentic pain points just think about the people that currently use your products and services and work backwards from there. Before washing machines, for example, people would clean their clothes by hand. Manual labour in this instance is a pain point. Innovative, automated technology is the opportunity.

Consider Product Applications

Depending on the industry, sometimes there isn’t much you can do with something as mundane as shelving. Or can you? Fortunately, there is one neat trick that can help you keep things interesting. Consider all of the industry applications for your products and services.

You should, at every opportunity, explain how your stuff can be used in various situations. Chances are a hotel owner or restaurateur won’t even consider the benefits of your long span shelving until they read your landing page that elaborates on cool room storage solutions.

Investigate Keyword Strings

What are your competitors doing? Have a look at their websites and use the MOZ toolbar, or whatever you use, to take a closer look at their mapped keywords. Generally, keyword strings can provide a little insight about the products and services that an organisation deems to be important.

BS

Read the keyword optimised content and you may see how content creators are using products and services to resolve real or perceived issues.

It is common to see lots of articles from different sources that cover the same ground. Google likes fresh, original content. That time that you spend researching and reviewing is worthwhile when you publish words that own a unique selling point that your competition is neglecting.

TL;DR

  • Pain points are problems that we use to sell solutions
  • Determine realistic, believable issues that your business can solve
  • Discuss all of the potential uses and benefits of your products/services
  • Review rival business websites to find your own unique selling points

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Stock images. You see them everywhere. Dentists love to flaunt smiling, elderly white couples with their all-on-4 dental implants while consultants have a thing for dudes in uniform pointing at whiteboards, tablets and computer screens. Why do businesses persist with using generic photographs and lame images? It’s all about time and money, sadly.

 

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Look at these crazy guys talking about SIEM benefits. Image: commons.wikimedia.org

The inner businessperson says: Why pay for a decent photographer when you can download some sweet, sweet stock? Better yet, let’s just roll with something simple to make our website fit in with the competition. The inner creative says: Surely, there’s merit in presenting unique art rather than settling for sloppy seconds?

 

Captivating, Original Images Demand Your Attention

When you see the same old poses over and over again you start to gloss over the details. In some situations this is ok, I guess. But if you’re striving for a point of difference to sell a product or a service then what better way to promote your brand than to use your own visual media?

 

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Pow! It’s the Justice League of the 41st millenium …

Next time you Google your local GP have a squiz at their website. Notice anything familiar about their visual design? I find that the businesses that choose to use their own photography to showcase their clinic/office/warehouse/shed/boat tend to stand out and look more professional than their half-arsed rivals. Half arsed? Does that have a crack?

One of my clients once said that he received a complaint from a rival business owner because they were using the same stock image for the same service. That’s right, someone whinged about fair use. I have also seen bizarre cases where the general public confused two completely different cake stores as belonging to the same franchise due to similar logos and marketing strategies. Come on, people.

Be Free, Be You

 

Put your pants back on. We’re not talking about sprinting to your nearest nude beach (that’s a topic for another time). We want to see what your brand does. We’re sick of seeing recurring cliches. Our eyes want fresh eye candy, man. So grab a camera and snap some shots. If you happen to know someone savvy enough to edit your amatuerish attempts, even better.

So save your iStock money and invest in your own creative pursuits. It’s time to refresh your visual website design on your terms.