Easy to read copy benefits everyone

Making copy easier to read benefits every level of reader. I don’t mean dumbing it down. I mean writing that increases understanding and the number of people who will actually invest time in reading it. Easy to understand text is key. It’s good for your audience and company. Readers perceive it and who your writing represents as transparent.

There are a number of advantage of clear writing. It takes less effort to decipher. It contains words that people use which gets you more search results. If you think clearly you’ll write clearly.

How do you ensure readability. Use short words. Avoid fancy words and made up terms. Avoid compound sentences. Use active voice. Write on an 8th grade level if you are targeting a broad consumer base. Use sentences and words that correspond with the education level or your target.

You can increase the comprehension of your article and help drive readers to perform an intended action by including user-centric language – terms they are familiar with. Only use specialized words if the audience is specialized and will understand it.

Always start with the conclusion or a main point. People relate better if they know where you are going with your story.

Since most readers are scanners, you’ve got to grab them quickly. Headlines are particularly important. What can you do to make yours more attention grabbing?

1. Make sure the headline works out of context. Make them strong and descriptive. In searches or on mobile devices they often appear alone, stripped of content for make sure they make sense if read alone.

2. Treat them like micro content. They need to be phrases that can be scanned and still give clear ideas.

3. Tell readers something useful. Do they provide value? Are they specific? Avoid broad generic headings. Tell your reader something they don’t know.

4. Don’t succumb to faddish vocabulary.

5. Omit nonessential words. Avoid punctuation. Avoid tangled messages.

6. Front load with strong keywords. The first few words get noticed. Don’t count on people reading to the end of a line. Web visitors spend less than one second on headlines and make the decision to read more.

In digital formats, it’s especially important to communicate immediately at the top of the page that content will be of interest to a reader.

Bloggers need to consider word count when growing a following. Invest your time and people will respond. Did you know blog posts climbs in search results in direct correlation to word count? Google ignores pages with less than 200 words of text. Short text is considered a sign of thin content. Longer posts get more likes and shares. Google also penalizes pages with poor grammar, spelling issues and vague writing.

Brand You

Brand You

Your brand reflects your personality and the services that you offer to your clients. It’s the first impression someone has of you. The right brand will draw clients to you. Crafting an irresistible brand takes time and thought.

Think about your unique style and personality. What are your personal values? Do you have a particular style? What is your personality like? How do you want others to perceive you? In blunter terms, I urge you to be the polka dot bra in the sea of beige. Your brand must ignite and excite your potential clients. You have one shot to make that first impression.

Put some serious thought into who your ideal client is. Make sure your brand appeals to their needs and shows them that you are the answer to all their needs. They will make assumptions based on your marketing materials.

Be clear on what you can offer. Make sure you aren’t promising something that you can’t deliver.

Make sure everything you put out for public consumption reflects you. Your website, social presence, newsletters – everything reflects your brand. Develop images and color pallets and stick to them. All of this contributes to the consistency of your message.

Your brand not only represents where you are now, it also gives people a vision of the future. If they stick with you, it assures them they will be getting consistent now and down the road.

Network like a champ

network like a champ

From your first days at your big girl job, through every level of promotion, and even when you decide to branch out on your own with some freelancing, the first piece of advice most of us get is “make sure you network.”

You’re encouraged to join the right groups and go to the right meetings. However, I’d urge you to look at it in a different light. What if you took on the idea that every time you meet someone new, you’re networking? You are given a brand-new opportunity to make that first impression. When you think about it like this, every social interaction – whether it’s stopping for your morning coffee, your new workout group, or a volunteer activity – becomes a chance for you to make a connection.

When you go about these activities, the difference becomes you projecting you. Your attitude is relaxed. You’ve dressed in a way you are comfortable with every day. There’s no pressure to come away with a new client or business project. You’re focused solely on making a connection with another person.

Make sure your manners are showing. Don’t interrupt people. Take the opportunity to introduce people you already know to new people you just meet. It’s not a competition. When we all learn that helping each other out gets us farther than trying to hold someone back, we’ll be so much better off. Compliment people. If you’ve heard something great about their work, let them know. Say thank you if someone acknowledges you for the work you’ve done. Don’t play it off like “it was nothing.” Be the real you. Don’t try and use words or corporate speak that doesn’t come natural. People will know when you are authentic or not.  Be confident in you.

Most importantly, pay attention. Don’t let your phone be a distraction. Don’t be so worried about your next hashtag you stop paying attention to the people around you. (See the point above – manners!!!) Use active listening. Don’t make someone else feel like what they are saying isn’t important enough to hold your attention.

Finally, reach out online, send an email, or better yet – drop them a personal note. Follow up with the people you meet. Thank them for the opportunity to get to know them. Relate a nugget from the conversation you had. Maybe you ran across an article their comment reminded you of – share it with them.  If you think they’d make a great potential client, suggest a follow-up meeting. Expressions of gratitude will go a long way in opening a door to a bright future.