The NCIS Guide to Content Writing

In the long-running crime drama NCIS, special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs has a set of rules to live by. How can you apply some of these rules to content writing?

Don’t believe what you’re told. Double check.

This rule goes hand in hand with “Never take anything for granted.” Do your research. Find good sources. Dig deep to find information hidden beneath the surface. A related Gibbs’ rule to remember is “There is no such thing as coincidence.”

Always watch the watchers.

In other words, know your target audience. Why are people reading the content, and what do they want from it?

Sometimes – you’re wrong.

Even the best writers sometimes make mistakes. If you do, admit it and follow another rule: “Clean up your messes.” Maybe that’s as simple as updating a blog post or writing a new post explaining what happened. If you’re writing for clients, you may need to apologize (yeah, I know that breaks Gibbs’ never apologize rule) and offer to fix the problem.

When the job is done, walk away.

Most good writers will tell you that they are never completely happy with what they have written. But, at some point, the writing has to be finished. When you believe the content is accurate, achieves its intended purpose, and has been properly edited and proofread, it’s time to let it go and move on.

Never, ever involve lawyers.

Enough said.

Complete list of Gibbs’ rules. Do you follow these rules?

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Tips for Creating Content

Need ideas for creating content? Copyblogger has kindly shared the following infographic.

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

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10 Articles to Jumpstart Your Content Marketing

People search the web for information. That’s why content marketing is all the buzz. If you can create content that attracts people, you have a great chance of turning some of those people into customers or clients.

But this concept is not new. According to Content Marketing Is Not New, But the Opportunities Are at Junta42, John Deere, in 1895, was the first company to use content marketing by creating a customer magazine, called The Furrow, that educated farmers about the latest in technology.

For years, some people have flooded the Internet with garbage content – words designed to cause a page to rank high at the search engines but that had little substantive meaning. As search engines become more sophisticated, especially with the Google changes of 2011, that approach no longer works (if it ever really did).

For content to be effective marketing, it must deliver high-quality, relevant, and valuable information. That’s the first of 12 core attributes of content marketing that marketing expert Heidi Cohen discusses in Content Marketing Defined on her blog.

The Content Marketing Institute offers a lot of good information. Here’s a sampling:

To understand the relationship between content marketing and copywriting, see What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Copywriting? at Copyblogger.

Plus, you need a strategy: Why You Need a Content Marketing Strategy from WebProNews and A Content Marketer’s Guide to Social Media & Search Strategy from TopRank.

For promoting content through social media: 42+ Social Media Marketing Tools at Junta42.

If you are ready to create real content for your website, contact me to discuss your needs.

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Another Example of Bad Web Writing

Believe it or not, I found the following sentence in an article on the web:

“A wellness historical past consumption kind may requested of you by the massage therapist so that he/she can examine your specific circumstance and make any adjustments for allergic reactions, sensitivities and/or any contra-indications to obtaining sure varieties of therapeutic massage remedy methods.”

Huh? The entire article was mostly like that sentence. Would you trust any information in this article, the website on which it appears, or the business providing the content?

Since I have a background in massage therapy, I do know what the sentence is trying to say:

“Your massage therapist will ask you about your health, physical condition, and medical history. This information is important to determine if you have any conditions that would make certain massage techniques inadvisable or any allergies or sensitivities that would make the use of certain massage oils or lotions inadvisable.”

The quality of the content on your website is important. Feel free to contact me about producing the quality content your website needs.

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Does Your Content Writing Attract or Repel Customers?

While browsing the web, I found a badly written article about content writing on the services page of a website of an Internet marketing company. If the company can’t even produce good content for its site, why would anyone hire the company to produce content?

I’m going to analyze the first paragraph sentence by sentence.

First sentence: “When writing content for a website there are a number of requirements that needs to be met.”

The sentence has two really basic errors:
Punctuation error: A comma belongs after the word website.
Verb tense error: Needs should be need.

But the whole sentence is just poor writing, from the overall structure to the use of passive voice. A rewrite is simple: “Content writing for a website needs to meet a number of requirements.”

Second sentence: “Firstly, it has to be user friendly, allowing the user to quickly and effortlessly move back and forth between pages.”

This sentence is better than the first sentence but still unnecessarily ponderous. A rewrite: “First, the content needs to let the reader quickly and effortlessly move between pages.”

Third sentence: “This creates a comfort zone where the reader wont be hindered from getting to know your products or services better.”

Note: Wont should be won’t.

I would combine the third sentence with second one, creating: “First, the content needs to let the reader move quickly and effortlessly between pages, making it easy for the reader to get to know your products or services better.”

Fourth sentence: “If there is one thing that creates a negative image, maybe even an irritation with readers, its the frustration of not being able to find exactly what it is they need.”

Rewrite: “Nothing irritates or frustrates readers more than not being able to find exactly what they need, creating a negative image that is unlikely to gain you a client.”

Fifth sentence: “By means of informative content your potential client will surely be more satisfied, which will ultimately lead to a better brand-image and relationship with your reader.”

Rewrite: “When you provide informative, easy-to-navigate content, you satisfy readers and create a better brand image and relationship with them, potentially gaining new clients in the process.”

So, the original:

When writing content for a website there are a number of requirements that needs to be met. Firstly, it has to be user friendly, allowing the user to quickly and effortlessly move back and forth between pages. This creates a comfort zone where the reader wont be hindered from getting to know your products or services better. If there is one thing that creates a negative image, maybe even an irritation with readers, its the frustration of not being able to find exactly what it is they need. By means of informative content your potential client will surely be more satisfied, which will ultimately lead to a better brand-image and relationship with your reader.

becomes

Content writing for a website needs to meet a number of requirements. First, the content needs to let the reader move quickly and effortlessly between pages, making it easy for the reader to get to know your products or services better. Nothing irritates or frustrates readers more than not being able to find exactly what they need, creating a negative image that is unlikely to gain you a client. When you provide informative, easy-to-navigate content, you satisfy readers and create a better brand image and relationship with them, potentially gaining new clients in the process.

If you agree the rewritten paragraph is more effective, and your content needs help, please contact me to discuss what I can do for you.

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7 Blog Posts About Successful Blogging

Successful blogging is a skill that you can develop. What does successful mean? That’s up to you.

What purpose do you want your blog to serve? What is your goal for blogging? These two questions are important to answer before you start, because the answers will help you determine your approach to building your blog.

Here are seven blog posts that can help you become a successful blogger:

7-point Checklist For Bloggers Who Want to Create a Profitable Blog at Problogger

6 Steps to Successful Blogging at Junta42 Content Marketing

Create an About Page for Your Blog that’s a Secret Freelance Sales Weapon at Remarkablogger

5 Biggest Lies of Supposedly Successful Bloggers at Make a Living Writing

7 Blog Formulas to Use When You Have Run Out of Ideas at From Bloggers For Bloggers

5 Ways to Improve Your Writing and Become a Better Blogger at Blogging Tips

Bloggers: Do You Give Your Readers What They Want? at Successful Blogging

And an extra – not a blog post, but a question ask yourself before your start – Should You Blog or Build a Website (or Both)? at Sitesell

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Word Use Tips

Here are some word use tips for a few commonly misused words

Affect or Effect

The most common use of affect is as a verb meaning to influence. The most common use of effect is as a noun meaning an outcome or result. For example:

The effect of the rain was to make the ground wet.
What effect did the rain have on the ground?
The rain affected the ground.
How did the rain affect the ground?

Uncommon Use of Effect

Effect can be a verb that means to bring about, as in:

The rain effected a change in the amount of moisture in the ground.
The scientist effected a cure for the disease.

Uncommon Uses of Affect

You can also use affect as a verb that implies pretending, as in “She affected a southern accent.”

In psychology, the word affect used as a noun is a technical term in discussing a feeling or emotional state.

Your and You’re

Your is the possessive form of you.

You’re is a contraction for you are.

Correct uses:

Your car is red.
The car is on your left.
You’re driving a red car.
You’re giving me your car.

Here are different uses of your:

Formal titles: Your Honor, Your Majesty

Informal use: Your average person buys a car every four years.

There – Their – They’ve

Their is a possessive pronoun. Example: Their home is beautiful.

They’ve is a contraction for they have. Example: They’ve given us a beautiful home.

There has many possible uses but generally means at that place, in that location, in that respect, or on that point.

Correct uses:

Go over there and pick up the papers.
There are 26 letters in the alphabet.
The football players had their pre-game meeting.
They’ve given us 10 more minutes.

More word use tips for “there.”

Fewer – Less

Use fewer with things you can distinctly count:

I have fewer books than you have.
She has fewer ideas than the other board members.
Fewer people attended the concert this year.

Use less for uncountable things:

We had less rain this year than last year.
He has less money than needed, because he had fewer dollars than he thought he had.
Because I had fewer hours to work, I had less time to complete the project.

Also, use less with adjectives and adverbs:

He is less happy than you are.
You walk less quickly than he does, because you take fewer steps in each minute.

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