The Benefits of Content Writing

Content is everywhere, from a leaflet that lands on your doorstep to an email that you just received from your favourite clothing brand. Everywhere we turn we are presented with content, and without even realising it, we are massively influenced by the content that surrounds us.

In today’s multifaceted world where we are presented with so many different options when it comes to communication, the world of content marketing has never been more diverse or exciting. Just a few of the many examples include email and social media as well as text messaging, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype and much more. As you can see, the means of communicating are almost infinite.

As a result of this, content writing is not some sort of passing fad soon to be replaced with something more exciting, but is a meaningful, powerful and important means of communication. It enables us to get our message across not only as individuals but also as businesses, and is a fantastic tool when it comes to promoting a brand, product or service.

As a business, it is vital that you take full advantage of content writing and its many capabilities. Since beginning my career as a freelance content writer, I have helped countless businesses to get their messages across in an articulate, meaningful and clear way. I have helped businesses to resonate with their audiences, to communicate with them in a clearer brand voice and to successfully sell their products and services to audiences from across the globe.

This is the power of content marketing.

Content is definitely here to stay so if you’re seeking a steady, secure and reliable means of improving your SEO, promoting your products or services, communicating with your audience and increasing your client base, then it is definitely wise to invest in content.

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Interesting Terminology You’ll (Probably) Never Need to Use

Just to prove I learnt a thing or two at university, here is some interesting terminology that stuck with me since my days as a student!

You can use these terms to impress others; and who knows, they may prove handy at some point or another!

Onomatopoeia

This means that it sounds exactly as it is read. Examples include “Bang!” “Crash!” “Cuckoo” and “Sizzle.”

Some examples:

“The water plopped into the pond.”

“The birds whistled and the frogs croaked.”

“The breeze whooshed above us and around us.”

Onomatopoeia is used by authors to describe sounds and is generally considered one of the easiest ways to do so.

Palindrome

A palindrome is a word, phrase, number or sentence that, when turned around, remains exactly the same. The term is derived from the Greek words, “Palin”, which means again, and “dromos” which means way or direction.

For instance:

“Was it a cat I saw?” or even “Was it a car or a cat I saw?”

“Never odd or even.”

Turn them around and you will see they remain exactly the same!

Palindromes are primarily used for entertainment or amusement purposes and are not really used so much in literature (or not very well, anyway).

Oxymoron

This is a figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear next to one another. Oxymorons are mostly used in literature and other rhetorical devices for a number of reasons, from creating drama for the reader (or listener) or to make a person stop and really think about what they’ve just read or heard.

Some classic examples include:

“She stayed falsely true to herself”

“This painting is painfully beautiful”

“His voice is amazingly awful”

The woman cried happy tears”

“He is awfully good at sport”

“It was my only choice.”

Andy Warhol once famously said, “I am a deeply superficial person” while Winston Churchill once said, “A joke is actually an extremely really serious issue.” Thanks for those confusing thoughts, gentlemen.

Can you think of any examples of oxymorons?

I loved studying the English Language and still love learning all about its intricacies!

What really stuck with you during your studies?

Waiting for the Gift of Sound and Vision

When I read a piece of my written work, I listen to the way it sounds. Okay, I’m not writing poetry or the lyrics to a song, but that doesn’t matter. Regardless, my writing has to have a flow, a rhythm, and a pleasing sound, in order for me to be satisfied with it.

Just like the waves crashing against the shore, a car’s tyres crunching against a gravelled driveway or Bob Dylan singing “Don’t Think Twice it’s Alright” (some of my many favourite sounds), a piece of writing must sound satisfying.

Sound is just as important in your writing as other elements such as research, flow and quality of writing, so when you’ve finished a piece of work, read it and re-read it to hear how it sounds. Are you satisfied with how it sounds?

Great, then let’s move onto how it looks!

As David Bowie said in his song, Sound and Vision, “I will sit right down, waiting for the gift of sound and vision.”

Just as sound is important to the flow of your content, so too is vision.

It’s vital for your work to be visually appealing.

It’s no longer okay to write heavy, chunky paragraphs laden with opulent, fancy vocabulary.

Your paragraphs need to be short, sweet and to the point.

When your audience sees a piece of text that looks visually appealing, they will be much more likely to dive right in.

Then, when it sounds just as good as it looks, they’ll want to stay with you – right until the end of the piece.

So sit right down, get inspired and wait for the gift of sound and vision to influence your writing and elevate it to the next level!

“Don’t Think Twice it’s All Right”

There’s something about a well-written song that resonates so deeply with me. When one of my favourite songs comes on, I just want to drop what I’m doing, close my eyes and listen to it on full blast, taking in all the elements from the instruments used to the nuances and emotions of the singer’s voice.

There’s something about the way Dylan sings this song, and the lyrics he wrote to accompany it are intelligent and pretty brutal in some aspects! It’s hard to believe he was just 21 when he wrote this song; he is such a smart and eloquent songwriter, and absolutely deserving of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Dylan’s written some incredible songs including Blowin’ in the Wind, The Times They are a Changin’ and Subterranean Homesick Blues, but Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right is by far my favourite Dylan song of all time.

Writing lyrics isn’t something that comes naturally to me but I have tried songwriting on a number of occasions and I must say it is a very therapeutic and cathartic process that I thoroughly enjoy. But if I was half as good as Dylan, I’d definitely be writing songs for a living.

Have a good read of these and see what you think; hope you enjoy them as much as I do:

(P.S. Can you spot the grammar mistake? We forgive you, Dylan!)

It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It don’t matter, anyhow
An’ it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don’t know by now
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I’ll be gone
You’re the reason I’m trav’lin’ on
Don’t think twice, it’s all right

It ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
An’ it ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe
I’m on the dark side of the road
Still I wish there was somethin’ you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin’ anyway
So don’t think twice, it’s all right

It ain’t no use in callin’ out my name, gal
Like you never did before
It ain’t no use in callin’ out my name, gal
I can’t hear you anymore
I’m a-thinkin’ and a-wond’rin’ all the way down the road
I once loved a woman, a child I’m told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

I’m walkin’ down that long, lonesome road, babe
Where I’m bound, I can’t tell
But goodbye’s too good a word, gal
So I’ll just say fare thee well
I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

Copyright © 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music

March Musings

Taking a Moment to Reflect on the Past Month 

March was a difficult month for me on a number of levels (for reasons I won’t get into here), but I wholeheartedly believe in the power of positive thinking and the overwhelming effects it has on the mind, body and spirit.

As cliché as it sounds, being positive really is a game changer, not just because it calms the heart rate and brings back that twinkle in your eye, but also because it really has the power to adjust your frame of mind and help you to see the good in a seemingly bad situation.

Life is an odd thing but we’re all here, facing its challenges in our own unique ways. I know for one that I am always trying to be the best version of myself possible, whether in my professional or personal life.

Within my content writing, I’m always aspiring to push myself further and further and produce the best work imaginable. With each piece of content I produce, I scour it with a fine-tooth comb, checking it and re-checking it to see how it can be improved. Only when I’m truly happy with it will I click ‘Publish’ or ‘Send.’

As a mother, I’m always trying to educate myself and do the best thing for my children, which isn’t always easy (we all lose our tempers sometimes ;)) but it is a challenge I am wholeheartedly embracing through all the tears, tantrums, trials and tribulations (that’s enough alliteration for one day), and of course through all the joy, laughter and happiness that resonates through our home on a daily basis.

There are plenty of other versions of ‘me’ including wife, daughter, sister and friend, and I’m always committed to pushing myself beyond any metaphorical boundary and being the best version of myself I can possibly be, no matter which role I am filling at that moment.

With that in mind, I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous month ahead.

Here’s to positivity!

5 Common Spelling & Grammar Mistakes to Avoid to Improve your Writing

 

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I admit some of these still confuse me even though I’m a seasoned writer (nobody’s perfect:)), so don’t be afraid to refer back to this list during your writing to avoid making unnecessary mistakes.

Fewer than and Less than

Less is used for hypothetical quantities. E.g. “There are fewer than 30 children in my son’s class,” or “there are fewer seasonal fruits to choose from in winter.” On the other hand, less than is used for something that can’t be counted or doesn’t have a plural (e.g. money, time, air, rain, music.) E.g. “Susan eats less than me,” “It snowed less in Alaska this year.”

Affect and Effect

Once you learn the difference here, this one’s pretty easy. The key to remembering this one is that “affect” is almost always a verb (e.g., “The loud music affects my ears”) while “effect” is almost always a noun (e.g., “I love the effect that music has on my mood.”). While “affect” means to influence or create an impression, “effect” describes the result or the outcome.

Farther and Further

The word “farther” implies a measurable distance. “Further” should be reserved for abstract lengths you can’t always measure. e.g., I swam the ball fifty feet farther than Harry. e.g., The earthquake caused further implications.

Disinterested and Uninterested

Despite what most people think, these words are not synonymous. A “disinterested” person is someone who has an impartial perspective. For example, a judge or referee is disinterested because he or she is operating from a neutral perspective. If you want to write a sentence to imply that someone couldn’t care less, then the word you’ll want to use is “uninterested.”

Whether and If

“Whether” and “if” are NOT interchangeable, meaning you can’t replace one with the other. “Whether” expresses a condition where there are two or more alternatives, while “if” expresses a condition where there are no alternatives available. E.g., I don’t know whether I’ll go to the party on Friday. e.g., I can’t go to the party on Friday if I don’t get paid in time. 

Which words confuse you the most? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Essential GDPR Information (& How it Affects Content Marketing)

With only two months to go until the updated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) kicks into action, it’s vital that your business is completely ready well in advance of the May 25th deadline. Otherwise, you run the risk of receiving hefty fines as high as €20 million, or 4% of total worldwide annual turnover (whichever is the most).

Any EU, EEA, and UK business that processes and manages personal data of EU clients, customers and employees will be affected by this updated regulation. Further, businesses located outside of the EU that deal with data of EU clients will also be affected.

With only two months to go until the updated GDPR regulation kicks into action, it’s vital that your business is completely ready well in advance of the May 25th deadline. Otherwise, your business runs the risk of receiving hefty fines as high as €20 million, or 4% of total worldwide annual turnover (whichever is the most).

The most important things you can do at this point are to:

  • Research the GDPR in-depth to ensure you completely understand the updated regulations
  • Perform a review of the processes and practices taking place at your business
  • Analyse your platform and infrastructure to determine whether or not you are fully compliant
  • Carry out a data audit to identify all data processing activities at your business
  • Identify the ‘weak links’ in order to strengthen or remove them

The whole point of the GDPR is to strengthen the protection of people’s personal data and ensure that all policies and practices are in line with our digital era.

The revised GDPR will most certainly affect the world of content marketing.

For instance, if you wish to send out an email marketing newsletter, you will need to comply with the GDPR. In order to be compliant, you must first obtain consent from your customers (individuals must opt-in to receive your mail). They must know what they are consenting to while consent must be “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous.”

So let’s say you’re asking people to sign up for your newsletter. To do this, you must explicitly state that your brand is collecting data, and describe exactly what it will be used for. You will also need to have proof of consent on file, say in the form of screengrabs or consent forms. This must be stored somewhere safe and easy to access when required.

The same holds true for data already obtained, so if you’ve got details on record, you now need to reach out to those individuals to confirm that they are okay with you keeping their records on file. If not, you need to appropriately discard that information immediately.

There is a great deal involved in GDPR so if you’re feeling confused and need some professional guidance, get in touch. I work closely with a leading GDPR and FADP consultancy firm offering specialist services designed to ensure that your organisation lives up to GDPR regulation.

To learn more, email maria@hqcontentwriter.com.