Tag Archives: writers education

Why F7 is your best ever friend

Even Google isn't perfect.We’ve all done it, made a spelling mistake and regretted it.  One sharp-eyed reader noticed mine in our inaugural newsletter!  While F7 couldn’t have prevented that particular mistake, it can prevent 99% of the spelling and grammar mistakes you make.

F7 is the function key (Mac and PC) that directs your computer to check your spelling.  If you’re like me, you probably have your favourite email programme and word processing programme set to automatically check spelling and grammar.

Yes, that does mean you have to put up with Microsoft (for example) wanting to change ‘staff’ to ‘staffs’ (a personal bugbear of mine) but you can change the kinds of items it checks in your settings or options.

Even if you hate all those mis-corrections that are offered and so don’t automatically check, pressing F7 on your keyboard will start your spell checking programme for when you need to get it right.

Competition: the first person to email me, correctly identifying the typo in my last email will get a bottle of wine!  Email me with the typo and let me know whether you prefer Red or White?

And if you want to know more about adjusting your grammar settings, let me know below.

Automate Google for endless inspiration!

Inspiration is aplenty, if you know where to look. One of the best places that works for me is Google Alerts. It’s not perfect but if you manage it well, it’s a rocket fuelled source of business writing inspiration. If you don’t have a Google account, you do need to register but it’s simple and free.

I use Google Alerts for myself as well as for clients, and encourage them to set up alerts for themselves.  Here’s why.

Too much information?

It’s impossible to stay on top of every industry or sector related story. Certainly I find it impossible to stay on top of Radio, TV and the NZ Herald, let alone LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook Pages, Google+, Industry Blogs and the plethora of other info sites I indulge in.

Store your inspiration for when you need it.

Google Alerts, cleverly used means I can quickly access the information I need, and decide what I need to write about or comment on. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not my only way of staying up with my education, but it does happen to be a great way of collecting an in-one-place stream of possible inspiration.

Here’s a glimpse at an alert for Recruitment NZ.

Google Alerts - Recruitment Example

Choose the settings that suit you best.

As you can see, you can choose your settings. Choose the sources you want (e.g. news, blogs, discussions, even videos and books). Choose when how often you want to be updated. Choose the kinds of update results you want. Google takes care of the rest and emails relevant content to you.  If you want to see how I manage alerts and other regular emails see my post here.

Put your inspiration to work.

Basically when I want to write a newsletter topic or business article, I can just dip into my folder of inspiration to see what’s topical. It also means I can proactively contact clients to let them know about conversations that impact on their business.

Gain profile on the back of industry news.

One of the upsides is that it gives me an opportunity to see what’s going on in my industry and comment (or not) on other people’s input.  Not all copywriting has to be long or comprehensive. There are many ways to build a business profile. Google Alerts will definitely give you some inspiration.

Test it out. See what works for you.  And let us know below.

Chunking it vs churning it!

If you’re not naturally a writer and have to write for your business, it’s important to give yourself a fighting chance.  As with any postponable task, the key is to break it into small manageable chunks that will systematically get you where you want to be.

Without context, that last statement gives even me, the horrors.  Anyone who’s ever done a time management course is thinking “really?! That’s your best insight?” and who could blame them.  So let me show you how to do it, with context and a genuine example.

Let’s look at writing a newsletter.

What on earth are you going to write about?  Probably, because you knew it was coming up, you have a couple of ideas for some of the content. Maybe a link or two?  Maybe an industry article?  Maybe a thought about something a client said last week. All good.  But it’s what you do next that matters most.

Do NOT be tempted to just start writing.

If you do, you will churn.  By churn, I mean you will change sections around, write and rewrite the same article, ditch one idea for another, rewrite the headline seven times and still wind up dissatisfied.

STOP and decide what you want to achieve.

(I do hate to beat an old drum, but yes, that comes back to ‘the brief”, so if you haven’t already, download our free guide to giving good brief here.)

With your brief in hand, break your newsletter into sections where each section has a purpose or point to achieve.  In my case, we have 6.  Best research says 5-7 items is about as much as the brain can handle so we have 6 (and yes, these are the 6 topics most requested by clients).

Our highly technical chunking tool in action.

Our highly technical chunking tool in action.

This is what the chunks look like:

1. The Writer’s Corner : how to write better
2. Across the Desk : insights into marketing best practice
3. Working It : how to work with a creative (writer / designer / etc…)
4. Inspiration : where to find it
5. The Naughty Step : things you should never do (and hilarious things others have done)
6. The Water Cooler : useful online resources for writing / SME marketing 

So for me, I don’t write a newsletter per se, I write 6 mini-articles.

See the task is getting easier already!

Even then, I don’t write all 6 at once.  I write one article, to purpose, until completion. Then it’s done. 5 to go. The task is getting smaller. Satisfaction all round. For this article I only had one purpose; to give you a useful tip on how to write better.

So if you are struggling with writing your newsletter this month, stop.

Take 10 – 15 minutes to work out the main sections of your newsletter. Give each section a section title and a section purpose. You only have to do this once. The next newsletter will use the same sections and same purposes (until you want to retire or renew them).

Now pick one section. Go back to your ideas (links, industry stories, client’s comments) and find one that fits your purpose. Do not change topic. Do not change purpose. Just get the words down for that section and once you’ve finished the article, check your grammar and spelling, and only then give it a title.

There you go. It really can be that easy.

And as you get better at chunking instead of churning, those articles will start to roll off your fingers with ease.

Post your comments below. Meantime happy writing!

Sign up to “the 5th C’

Following on from the 4 Cs which have been our marketing touchstones for years (Clarity, Colour, Cut and Carats) we’ve introduced ‘the 5th C’… educ-C-ation.

‘The 5th C’ is your monthly guide to business writing. There’s something for everyone; DIY tips, market knowledge; and the latest and best online resources for business marketing.

I know that as a business owner, you don’t always have the budget to outsource. ‘The 5th C’ is designed to help you achieve more on your own. And if writing is not in your DNA, don’t worry – we’re happy to step in when you do need professionals.

Each monthly newsletter includes:

  • ‘the writer’s corner’ – how to write better for your business
  • ‘across the desk’ – business marketing insights from local and global marketing leaders
  • ‘working it’ – how to manage your writer, designer and project
  • ‘finding inspiration’ – great tips for where and how to find inspiration for fresh content
  • ‘the naughty step’ – useful (and occasionally hilarious) tips on what not to do
  • ‘at the water cooler’ – the latest and best online resources for business owners

Sign up here for:

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