Tag Archives: writer

Ghostblogger – help me write that blog!

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By nature, entrepreneurs love what they do. They own their own business. What could be better than that? But technology is making new demands on business people. In addition to looking after your business, you have to keep in touch with your clients online via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and, for some, “the dreaded” blog.

With 140 characters, Twitter is doable. LinkedIn can be linked to Twitter (#in) so you kill two birds with one 140 character-posting stone. Facebook can be a quick look each day, some comments and/or “thumbs up” and a brief status update. Then there’s the blog.

This is a much bigger piece of writing and, let’s face it, not everyone likes to write. Then there are people who say “I can write” but wonder why their words aren’t resonating with their readers.

As any professional writer will tell you, writing is hard work. Professional writers meticulously choose our words, cut back our copy until it’s half the original size, then we edit some more until it sounds just right. But we’re not done yet. We rely on editors, friends, family – or any objective eye – to read our copy and ensure that they understand and enjoy reading it because, if they don’t get it, then it’s not going to be clear to the reader. So it needs to be refined, yet again, until it hits the mark.

Writers also need to find topics to write about. By nature we’re full of ideas. We have files overflowing our desks or in boxes. We watch everything with a focused eye and eavesdrop more often than we like to admit. We ask too many questions (according to our family members who often think we’re just being nosy). We take notes (literally and mentally) and refer back to them for more ideas.

Sound tough? It can be. But professional writers love the challenge. For us, working with words and the process that goes with it is a labour/labor of love.

But if you’re not in love with writing, or you enjoy the process but aren’t getting what you want from your blog, here are some tips that might be helpful, in no specific order:

1. Make it relevant. Everything is changing at an incredibly rapid pace. Make your topic enduring (like a suit that doesn’t go out of style for a while), so it’s relevant to anyone who drops by to read it today, or a year from now.

2. The first few words are key. Every writer knows the lead (or lede) has to grab the reader. When it comes to online posting, you get a few seconds for the reader to decide to stay or move on.

3. Keep up the momentum. Your first sentence or paragraph could be the best thing ever written. Great! But keep that momentum going so the reader wants to stay with it until the final sentence.

4. Keep it simple. Get rid of the jargon (words that are tossed around in your professional area of expertise but mean nothing to your target market or the average reader). Use plain language (bloated sentences filled with lofty words only make people feel uncomfortable and aren’t going to endear them to you or your product/service).

5. Speak with a friendly voice. Just like the way we talk, everyone has their own “writing voice.” Read what you’ve written aloud. Listen to the words. Do they sound like you’re talking directly to the reader and making them feel comfortable? It should.

6. Don’t overdo the tech stuff. It’s great to link to a YouTube posting that fits perfectly with your blog posting, but readers will soon tire of watching  those clips that aren’t always that professional. Same thing goes with fancy flash files that take a while to download. If the reader can’t get into the blog quickly they won’t wait around.

7. Had enough of the writing? Let someone else take this job off your plate so you can do what you love best. Hire someone else to do it. I call them the “ghostblogger.” Whatever they call themselves, they should be a professional, published writer.

To Tweet or not to Tweet…

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I still haven’t figured out Twitter yet. I mean, what’s the point? As a writer I guess it could be a good place to post those random thoughts I have, rather than keeping a piece of paper and pen with me at all times when a story idea comes along. But, also as a writer, the keystroke limit is killing me. I want to tell the full story but that won’t happen in 140 keystrokes. And, really, are my random thoughts that interesting that someone would care? So I think, well, let’s give it a shot. And I post:

“After all these years of not cooking because it takes too long, I finally figure out it all boils down to sharp knives.”

Does anyone understand what that means? There’s a story here. Does anyone care what that story is? I mean, really, I have a university education, run my own business, can balance my own books. How come I just figured out that you don’t have to jab and stab in order to slice and dice?

But I can’t write the story  in 140 keystrokes so, in retrospect, should I have posted that?  Does it make me look stupid? Do people actually care? But wait,  since I posted it three people are now following me. Can they tell me why they found my post interesting (in 140 keystrokes or less)?

So if that post brought followers…well, I should be getting to the work on my desk…but maybe I’ll just post another random thought:

“Show me the money: I am overwhelmed by social networking tools. Should I be hanging out on Twitter or making a living & write that article?”

Notice I use the ampersand (&) because I’m close to my 140 keystroke limit. And why am I posting this question when I have paying work to do? And, again, does anyone care what I’m thinking? Apparently they do because two more people just started following me on Twitter.

But I still don’t get it. How can I keep up with all these Tweets and still work enough hours to make a living? And what do these strange things like Tiny URLs and @’s mean anyway?

Oops. Hold that thought. I’m getting dinged by my Blackberry with text messages. So “i’m riting 2 some 1 this wa” because there are text message keystroke limits.

There goes my years of refining my words, spell checking, learning rules  of grammar “becuz i don’t hav enuf room 2 rite what i need 2.”

It’s not all about writing…but sometimes it is

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I have no water cooler in my office. My office companions are two cats. My work keeps me busy, but the lack of people contact can make one workday seem like any other day. Weekends meld into weekdays. I can’t always differentiate between the two because my office is in the same location where I live with my family. I am just a few feet from our bedroom and a few more steps away from the nearest coffee pot.

This isn’t a complaint; it’s a reality check. When people ask me what I do and I say “I’m a writer,” their eyes light up. I can see inside their heads. They have visions of grandeur. I sit in my large office surrounded by books (true, my bookshelves are crammed) and photos of famous authors (reality: only on the back covers of the books, sometimes). All you can hear is the continuous sound of my fingers tapping on my keyboard as I create and manoeuvre characters into scenes and scenarios to inspire any reader. But that’s not what I do.

It would be great if writing was all about fame and big bucks. But, as Betty Jane Wylie says in her book The Write Track: How to succeed as a freelance writer in Canada, “writing is work” (a small part of a longer quote that I read to students I teach about the reality of freelance writing).

Writing is hard work. And once you hang out your shingle as a Freelance Writer the learning doesn’t stop because writing is all about constant learning. However just because writing is work doesn’t mean that it’s drudgery. I love what I do…well, most of the time; there are always some aspects of any job that are more interesting than others. Still, I have a flexible schedule. I have a variety of interesting clients and have learned a lot about topics I never thought I’d write about when I won an award for a poem in high school.

There is money to be made when you can write succinctly and engage your reader. Not everyone has that talent. As Wylie says, “I haven’t met a writer who hasn’t at one time or another felt the words flow from somewhere other than the brain right onto the paper. That can only be called a blessing.” So, yes, I’m blessed. But I’m human too.

I don’t always like the topics I’m writing about. If I could write about anything I wanted and got paid for it, that would be my first choice. If I felt that novel percolating, I would set aside time each day to bring it to life. But that’s not who I am, and that’s not what I write about.

So what kind of writer am I? You tell me. Check out some of the things I’ve written posted on my website: http://suzanneboles.com/writing-samples. You might be surprised. Who knew writing about topics that seemed mundane could be turned into interesting stories? And, better yet, you can get paid for doing this.

Back to my next assignment…