Guest post by Gill Kohn
Happy New Year Charlie Brown from Mar-A-Lago
Welcome to Donald Trump’s America! It’s not exactly Norman Rockwell, some might say more like Andy Warhol. Nothing is as it looks, cinema verite’ with a twist: often appearing larger than life and then distorted for full effect. As the Federal courts argue the constitutionality of President Trump’s recent landmark executive order on immigration, we can begin to see the attention being paid to drafting and control over official documents under the current administration. Words must matter to now President Trump, as with the original response from the White House referring to the temporary restraining order from the Ninth Circuit presiding over Washington State as “outrageous”. This response was immediately walked back and the word “outrageous” omitted. However, his characterization of U.S District Court Senior Judge James Robart as a “so-called judge” was left in place, much to the dismay of several of his closest advisors. The good news, not “fake news” for President Trump, is that (more…)
Copyblogger recently featured a post by Nick Chowdry titled, “Clueless About Technical Writing? Get Started With These Essential Tips.” In the post, Chowdry offers tips for copywriters who may be faced with their first technical writing assignment.
Chowdry’s tips are on the mark and include:
- Getting to the point quickly (terseness is a virtue)
- Simplify your language (look for simpler words that mean the same thing)
- Keep structure in mind (he suggests an inverted pyramid)
- Use layout to your advantage (lists, of course, but consider using a professional designer for layout?)
We think one important tip Chowdry left out is to use graphics or images to help convey your message. Yes, he touches on it, but pictures, diagrams, screen captures, etc. are worth a thousand words when it comes to technical writing. Sure, he mentions inforgraphics, but most infographics are designed to stand on their own. So many product guides today are nothing more than a sheet of illustrated steps with no text. The added benefit is that this makes translation/localization a whole lot easier, if not totally unnecessary. But if that was the desired deliverable, it’s more likely an assignment for an illustrator than a writer.
Another point left unmentioned is to consider your audience. Technical publications need to be suited for the level of technical knowledge of the reader or user. Maybe that was too obvious to mention, since all writing needs to be tailored its target audience.
All in all, Chowdry’s post contains some valuable – if not common sense – tips. We think design concerns are largely driven by the publishing medium, the length of the piece and any client design requirements in place.
What are your thoughts? If you are a technical writer, what advice would you give a copywriter when facing his or her first technical writing assignment? Please leave a comment.
When it comes to creating content, you don’t have to be the one that writes the words to get the rights to it. Many people (and businesses) think that to gain audiences, they need to be the one who sits at the computer and writes the content. This is simply untrue. Instead, by hiring a ghostwriter, you can outsource content creation and still retain ownership rights while getting the writing you need and the exposure your business deserves.
You might be the most passionate person when it comes to your topic and your business. But even the most passionate people need a day off (or longer). You need a fresh set of eyes to see what your message is and how it could be made better, especially in an ever-changing market. An outside writer can bring excitement to the table and help keep your writing fresh and vibrant.
Using new writers allows your content to continue to be exciting. When you’ve written about widgets for the last two years, for example, you may feel as though you have nothing more to say. But when you bring in an outside writer who has had different experiences, but who may not have considered your particular angle, a fresh perspective can result that maintains your audience’s interest.
You may have thought you were hiring a writer to help you complete a project, but that’s not all he or she has to offer. Even though you might be the expert in your field, fully ensconced in your business and industry, an outsourced writer can give you something you don’t realize you may be missing – perspective.
From this writer, you might learn:
You might know everything there is to know about widgets. You might know where the first widget was made, and where the first widget business began, but that doesn’t make you the best one to write about the subject.
And you can’t expect all experts in the field to write either.
Even though you might have a highly respected expert in your company, and they might know everything there is to know about their field, they may not be the one to turn their knowledge into a useful piece of writing.
For the past two-and-a-half years or so, Google has been tightening up its search ranking algorithms (Google’s “secret sauce” for determining where pages rank for a certain search query). Starting with the original Google Panda update in February of 2011 and continuing with multiple iterations of both Panda (largely related to on-page factors) and what Google calls its Penguin updates (largely related to incoming links) that continue today, a number of websites were hit hard with these changes. For the most part, many didn’t even know it had happened…but once they saw their website traffic take a hit and not recover, they went hunting for explanations.
If you’ve been the type of writer who never has an idea, then you need to change the way you look at creativity. While you already know this, creativity isn’t always something you can summon on demand.
Even the best writers may not have had their best ideas when they wrote them down. But what does that mean?
Let’s think about the last time you had a great idea. Maybe you were at a restaurant and a conversation reminded you of something that you wanted to say in your writing.
But when you got home, you couldn’t remember what the creative insight was. You couldn’t remember what your brilliant idea was. You shake your head and wonder why you can’t remember this flash of writing perfection.
The Internet is a fantastic place, filled with sites of information and distraction. While it can reach new audiences in new lands, it isn’t the only way to promote the writing you’ve created. In fact, it’s just another way to market your voice and your style.
Nothing sells you better than yourself. If you’re a writer who wants to hide behind a computer, you can certainly do so. But if you’re a writer who wants some name recognition, the time has come for you to promote your writing with more than just another status update or tweet.
Here are five ideas for promoting yourself offline as a writer:
It’s no surprise that established writers often give the same advice, something along the lines of, ‘Sit in your chair and write. Don’t get up.’ While stepping away from your desk is a good thing too, the point of this advice is to create some sort of routine for your writing.
You want to create a time when your mind and your body knows, ‘Hey, it’s time to write.’ When you’re used to a certain time being work time, then you’ll jump in and do what needs to be done.
Here’s how you can create a routine that works for you: