Blog Writing – Tips for Successful Blog Posts

Successful blog writing can be compared to fine cooking techniques. With the right ingredients, your blog can stand out from the crowd. Blogs are a very effective search engine optimization (SEO) tool to keep customers updated hence they are quite popular. With umpteen number of blogs online, here’s how you differentiate your blog writing.

Make an outline before blog writing

Think about your blog even before you sit down to write it. Unless you organise your thoughts, you cannot accomplish the task of writing a structured blog. From the time the idea first comes to mind to the time you complete your blog writing, the process could take several days. Spending more time planning your blog will save time as you progress.

Remember, the idea of your blog writing is not to phrase few scattered sentences and compose paragraphs that don’t read well.  When your blog is structured properly, it will provide the required flow to the reader and keep him or her focused.  Here are a few tips to make this happen:

  • Make a rough draft of your blog to ensure that you are not at a tangent from your topic.
  • Research your topic well before you start as often you may have no clue what the topic is about.
  • Avoid glaring errors – fact checking is vital.

Choose an attention-grabbing headline when blog writing

Every blogger knows that a catchy and attractive headline for his or her blog is an important tool to attract traffic. According to Copyblogger, just 20% of the people who visit your blog read the text while the remaining 80% just scan the headline. So great content with a bad headline is most likely to go unnoticed.

Opinions differ when it comes to choosing the headline. While some people feel a generic headline may bring in traffic, others feel specifics do a better job. We suggest a flexible approach that should vary depending on the topic of your blog.

You could follow either of the two basic techniques while writing a headline. The first approach is to write the heading first and then the write in line with the heading, while the other approach would be to do the blog writing and then decide a heading for it.

Seasoned copywriters advocate spending half of the entire time taken to write a blog to decide on the heading. Some writers suggest that in the initial stages of writing, you should churn out at least 25 headlines for a topic and then choose the best.

A good headline assists the reader to decide if he or she wants to continue reading or not. In spite of being an essential component of blog writing, the importance of a good headline when blog writing is often undermined.

Blog writing – the text

Now that you have made an outline for your blog and probably got a fix on the headline, it’s time to get down to writing the text. As in the case of headline writing, there are different approaches to writing the text as well. You can either write the text in one sitting or write by taking breaks in between.

However, higher productivity might be achieved when the blog writing is done in a single sitting as you are less likely to get distracted, will not miss out on the important points, and will be able to maintain the flow.  In addition, when you frequently go back to your writing, you are tempted to add more to the draft and soon you could be off the track. Here are a few simple techniques to make your blog writing stand out:

  • Let your blog speak a different language. Don’t write what everyone is writing or copy and paste content from the web.
  • The longer your blog writing, the better it is for search indexing, sharing, and traffic. Your blog should be complete from the content point of view and convey the right message across.
  • Link your blog writing to other topics within your website. Ensure that the internal linking is relevant and of interest to the reader.
  • Copyedit and proofread your blog. Come back with a fresh pair of eyes, maybe even a day later. Editing is just not about deleting repetitive words or fixing grammatical errors. You need to look at your blog writing in its entirety and sometimes edit/delete entire paragraphs or make alterations to the very structure of your blog. Last but not the least, check for errors in spelling and punctuation.

Apart from the actual text, writing a good introduction is also an important aspect of blog writing. Sometimes, it could be difficult to write an introduction at the very beginning of writing a blog; in such cases, you can complete your text and write the introduction in the end.

Blog writing is no different from other skills that you acquire with practice; the more you write, the better you will get at it.

Intersperse your blog with images

Blog writing needs to be content rich but at the same time it should also be interesting for the reader. A well written blog that contains plain text may not attract traffic as readers often lack the time and resolve to concentrate on the text alone. Readers would love to look at visually appealing content while reading a good piece of work. Usually, creative blogs are full of images that set an optimistic and exciting tone for the audience. To make your blog interesting, use stock images which can be purchased online. You can also find free images on sites such as Unsplash and Flickr after checking for image licences.

The benefits of using images include:

  • Enhancing the flow of your blog writing
  • Simplifying complex topics by using infographics, diagrams, and charts
  • Setting the tone and mood of your blog writing.

If you need assistance with your blog, we will be glad to discuss your goals and how we can assist with blog writing services. If you want to improve the business writing skills of you or your staff, learn more about our Business Writing Course.

Report Writing Tips for Effective Business Reports

The task of report writing can be mastered with practice and knowledge of the steps involved. A business report is a factually correct and concise document that assists with decision making. In general, business reports present facts and not be based on opinions. Though there are many business report formats, the basic structure of a business report is often standardised.

In this article, we will look at some useful tips for effective business report writing that can improve your results.

#1 Identify the purpose when report writing

Identifying your purpose when report writing is a crucial first step. Having a detailed discussion with relevant co-workers and managers should help you get the right perspective as everything else depends on your understanding of the purpose. The purpose of report writing can range from informing an audience, convincing people or employees, recommending new ideas to finding solutions to problems.

Report writing involves a certain amount of effort and assimilation of information. With so much information available, it’s only natural that you may stray from the purpose of the report. Stay focused on your purpose by

  • Having a clear understanding of what your report should achieve
  • Organizing your thoughts before writing a business report
  • Making an outline
  • Having a picture of the important or specific information to be communicated.

#2  Recognise your target audience when report writing

While report writing, your readers are your audience so customise the business report to cater to their needs. Your target audience can comprise both a primary and secondary audience. People who make decisions based on the report and check the feasibility of the recommendations in the report are the primary users of your report, while the ones affected by the decision taken are the secondary readers.  For instance, if you prepare a financial business report, the primary user would be the person who asked you to prepare the report while the employees or shareholders could be the secondary readers.

Here are a few points that you may need to keep in mind about your audience while report writing:

  • Who are your readers?
  • What is the level of knowledge of the readers?
  • What more do they need to know?
  • How do they intend to use the report?
  • What are the expectations of the readers?
  • Is there sufficient information to satisfy all stakeholders?

#3 Make your business report reader friendly

Another factor to consider while report writing is to keep it reader friendly. The way information is presented in a business report can determine if the reader wants to examine it or just treat it as another piece of paper lying on his or her desk. A neat and readable format is easier to read and assimilate.

A few tricks can improve readability when report writing:

  • Choose appropriate headings to make it easy to navigate and get readers interested.
  • Include bullet points to enhance reading speed and get the message across more effectively.
  • Organise information in a logical way that flows.
  • Use appropriate fonts – nothing too fancy or out of the ordinary.
  • Include headings that summarise the corresponding section.
  • Avoid writing long paragraphs – create new paragraphs at appropriate points.
  • Use infographics, tables and charts to manage large amounts of information.

#4 Adopt an unbiased writing style when report writing

We can tell when the tone of someone’s voice changes. It’s the same for readers too. They perceive the tone of a writer’s message, which in turn can influence perceptions.

It’s best to keep the tone neutral when business report writing. Using passive voice can help in keeping the tone formal as the focus would be on the action rather than the person.

Sometimes it’s necessary to write a business report objectively. In such situations, you should provide recommendations and conclusions only if they are asked for. You can include a separate section for recommendations and conclusions, while keeping the overall tone neutral and objective when report writing.

Here are a few tips on how to set the tone when report writing:

  • Ensure that the language is polite and genuine.
  • Highlight the importance of what you need to convey but don’t overdo it.
  • Communicate the advantages to the reader.
  • Avoid a biased writing style.
  • Avoid using jargon when you can do with everyday English.
  • Use short words when possible.
  • Cut down on unnecessary words.

#5 Consider the structure when report writing

Organise your business report on a simple structure – introduction, text and conclusion. Lead your reader through your business report by maintaining a logical flow; the report should flow from one point to the next naturally. Ensure that the report is appropriately long to achieve its purpose.

Though you may have chosen effective headings, ensure that the paragraphs under the headings flow logically. Typically, a paragraph in a business report should contain 100 to 150 words, with a main sentence that defines the core idea of the paragraph, followed by support sentences that substantiate the main idea using statistics and examples.  You may also include a finishing sentence that highlights your analytical skills.

#6 Proofread after report writing

Read and revise what you have written not once but twice when you have finished writing. Check for grammar and spelling errors, and repetitive information. During the first round of proofreading, check for spelling and grammar errors. Next, look for repetitive information or words that are out of context.

Using Microsoft Word to check spelling will not always work. Polish your business report with alternative spelling and grammar tools like Grammarly, Ginger and Whitesmoke.

You get the best results from your proofreading exercise when you put away the document for a day after you are completely done. When you come back to it with fresh eyes and a clear mind, you will often find mistakes you didn’t spot earlier.

At Word Nerds, we offer report writing services for most types of organisations, including business, government and professionals. We will be glad to discuss your report writing requirements and how we can assist.

If you are interested in customised business writing training for your organisation, find out more about our business writing course.

Michael Gladkoff

Writing a Fundraising Letter – Simple Tips to Get More Donations

Writing a fundraising letter is often an important first step in getting donations for your not-for-profit organisation. It should be easy to write a letter requesting donations for a worthy cause. Writing, however, can be an uncharitable art form at times – especially when you are writing in a style or theme which is unfamiliar to you. Well if you’ve spent half the morning staring at a blank screen, Word Nerds has got your back. Below you will find all the information you need to write a killer fundraising letter.

Use a conversational tone when writing a fundraising letter

The first tip is really a guiding principle when writing a fundraising letter: use a conversational tone. As the name implies, a conversational tone is writing that approximates the way we speak to one another in everyday conversation. It talks to the reader in their own language. A conversational tone sounds authentic to our ears, and really is the key to a reader’s heart. Just to clarify: conversational tone is just an approximation of conversational language. Phrases and words – such as ‘what I mean to say is’, ‘you know’ or even ‘y’know’ – are common in everyday speech, but in text form they just bog the reader down or appear unprofessional. But when you’re writing a first draft and you’re on a roll, feel free to use as much casual language as you please. Such phrases are easily rewritten when editing.

Now let’s look at what to include when writing a fundraising letter.

  • Begin by introducing yourself and your organisation to the reader. If they have previously given to your charity, or have expressed interest in your cause, thank them at the outset when writing a fundraising letter.
  • Provide a summary of the purpose of your charity, and the history your organisation has with helping the disadvantaged.
  • Next you must explain the essential human problem, and how this situation impacts the lives of those affected. This is where you get to paint a little picture for the reader. It is, in a sense, a short story – only very, very short.
  • Show the reader how your company, with the aid of its generous supporters, have improved the lives of people in the past. Speak in concrete terms when writing a fundraising letter.
  • Request a donation for a specified amount.
  • State simply and clearly how this money would be used to benefit those suffering.
  • Sometimes it may be necessary to provide more detail about your charity, and how the donated funds would be spent. If this is the case, consider including this information on a separate page, or even in a brochure if your budget allows.
  • If authorised to do so, you may choose to offer a gift or other incentive as a way of saying thank you to those who donate the requested amount.
  • Finish with a flourish, leaving the reader with a sense of hope and the feeling of community. After all, we’re all in this world together. Thank them for their generosity and their time.
  • Ensure the fundraising letter is personally singed by a member of your organisation.

If you need assistance with writing a fundraising letter, please contact us to discuss your organisation and goals. In addition to writing services, we also offer customised business writing courses to help staff improve their writing and editing skills.

If your organisation raises funds through speeches and presentations, you can get free tips at Speech Power.


Tips for Writing a Mission Statement

Whether you are an experienced mission statement writer or not, writing a mission statement can seem like a challenge. First, it’s important to understand the value of a mission statement if you wish to write an effective one. You could be forgiven for thinking that they are just a sales hook, or some platitude or excuse for an organisation’s existence. This may often be the case, but the truth is that, at their best, mission statements can have a large impact on customers and staff. When used in internal and external documents, a mission statement can influence how the organisation is perceived by the wider community.

A mission statement clarifies what a company does – and why it does it. It explains a company’s values, what purpose it seeks to serve, and how it plans to achieve its goals. A good mission statement is a guiding star for the business, in other words. It motivates management and staff toward a shared goal; it’s also an open letter to customers of what they can expect.

The Process of Writing a Mission Statement

So how do you get started when writing a mission statement? The first thing to do is to look at the business objectively. The key word here is clarity, and the clarity of your mission statement comes from boiling down everything that your company is and does, until you are left with the very essence of the business.

When creating your mission statement, get some blank paper and start doodling. Think about what your business does. Work is done not merely for money, but as a service to clients, and ultimately the community. Consider any positive feedback you may have heard from clients and staff.

Ask yourself a series of questions:

  • What was the intention of starting this business?
  • What do you like about the work?
  • Is there any work your company has done that you are especially proud of?
  • What are the company’s future goals? Why?
  • How has the business helped people?

Write it all down – there are no wrong answers. If you are writing a mission statement on behalf of the owner or the executive management, perhaps type up a little questionnaire for them to fill out.

Once you have all the information, write the mission statement. Write it several times – you won’t get it right without getting it wrong a number of times first. Try to reduce the word count as much as you can, while still including everything you feel is essential. A mission statement is usually no more than about 30 words in length, so there’s no room for waffle.

When writing a mission statement, you may find that two phrases say similar things. Combine them into one phrase, or even a word. Remember to keep your language as simple as possible. Simplicity is clarity.

Below is a quick check-list of the things you will probably need to include:

  • Acknowledge the stakeholders
  • Have a clear declaration of purpose
  • Note company values
  • Describe the primary activities of the organisation.
  • Mention company goals.

Once you think you are done writing a mission statement, get some fresh eyes to look at what you have written. Writers of all levels benefit from showing their work to others for clarification. They may say they don’t understand a sentence. If you get this feedback from several people, it probably suggests the writing is not plain and simple enough.

If you need assistance with writing a mission statement, we will be happy to discuss it with you.

White Paper Writing Tips to Highlight Your Expertise

White paper writing can seem like a big challenge, whether you’re an experienced white paper writer or not. If you have a clear picture of what a white paper should achieve, however, the task of white paper writing will be a lot easier.

First, how do you define a white paper? Well, there is no simple answer. Every industry has its own specific description for white paper writing. In general, a white paper is a report that explains an issue in detail and proposes a solution. A white paper is more formal and has more text. Companies rely on white papers to educate readers about an issue and provide awareness about the best practices or solutions available for those issues.

Faced with a white paper writing challenge? Here are some tips for white paper writing to highlight your expertise and gain expertise.

#1 Structure your content when white paper writing

Looking at the global Google statistics, around 9,000 searches are done using the term ‘whitepaper’ and 50,000 searches are done using the keyword ‘white paper’ every month!

With such high interest in white papers, it’s no secret that structuring the content is important when white paper writing.

Taking the density of the text into account, you can to structure your content effectively by creating smaller sections as below while white paper writing:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Problem/issue statement
  • Solution.

#2 White Paper Writing: Title, Abstract, Introduction

The first step in white paper writing is to create a title that will draw readers’ attention.

Answers to the following questions may help you create an apt title for your white paper:

  • Who is this white paper intended for?
  • What could be the area of concern or interest for these audiences?
  • What is the solution proposed by the white paper?
  • Is the title relevant to search engine optimization (SEO)?

For example, the title that has fewer than 55 characters when white paper writing, you may have very few issues while searching online for it on Google.

Some research will help you to write a title that suits you and your audience.

White paper writing with a short abstract gives you an opportunity to let your readers know what you are about to say. An abstract provides clues to how readers can benefit by reading the white paper. These clues include:

  • What is the white paper all about?
  • What are the benefits this white paper offers to the readers?
  • What problems, solutions and methodologies are described?

Though the abstract should follow the title, it’s always good to write an abstract after you complete  white paper writing.

Another challenging area in white paper writing is to write a suitable, attention-grabbing introductory section. As it provides an overview of the white paper, it’s essential to add more information (than in the abstract), such as topic background and objectives, or introduce the overall framework of the white paper in the introduction section.

#3 White Paper Writing: Problem Statement, Solution, Conclusion

An important aspect of white paper writing is to develop the information provided in the introduction section.

Start with the definition of the problem statement and describe it clearly. A few pointers that might help you define a problem statement could be:

  • The current status of the market pertaining to your industry or product
  • The pain point of companies or customers
  • Anything specific that is causing problems to the stakeholders.

Now that you have defined the problem statement accurately, the next step in white paper writing is to offer a solution by explaining the methodology or framework you are proposing to address the problem.

If you are about to provide multiple solutions, then it is meaningful to describe each of the solutions in detail. You can also categorise the solutions further into sub-groups and explain the benefits of each solution.

Support your solution with relevant data or personal stories or real-life examples, and write solutions specific to the problem statement you have defined.

The task of white paper writing is completed when you summarise the facts that are written in the white paper. Write a conclusion by restating the objectives of the white paper in a stronger tone.

You can also add additional resources for the users to refer to. For example, you can provide links to the previously published white paper or the reference links you used when white paper writing.

To make your white paper visually appealing, try to add some tables or charts or infographics.

White paper writing with relevant content that suits each of the stakeholder categories will make your white paper stand out from the crowd.

#4 White Paper Writing That Includes What’s Necessary

White papers are a subtle mode to pitch your product or service. So white papers can be viewed as a marketing tool. But if you overdo it, then the white paper may resemble sales material and the whole purpose of white paper writing is lost. You have to build your content in such a way that facts are presented and supporting evidence is included. A white paper is written in a persuasive tone but it’s not directly selling your products or services – it highlights your expertise. You don’t show that your organisation is a market leader, but the content you are providing should show readers that you are an industry expert.

For example, if the reader feels that your white paper is a problem-solving guide for them, then you have won!

#5 Calls to Action: The ‘Promotional’ Component in White Paper Writing

White paper writing with an effective call to action may introduce you to new potential customers.

For example, include:

  • An e-mail address to enable readers to write to you if they need clarification
  • A website link when writing a white paper to promote your brand
  • Contact phone numbers so readers can speak to the relevant person directly
  • Social media links, which provide an opportunity to get feedback and start group conversations.

White paper writing with compelling words or phrases will help you capture leads. Here are some useful phrases!

  • Reach out to us for a free demo
  • Click here to read more
  • Start a free trial
  • Register here for a free demo session
  • Enrol for FREE 30-day trial offer.

Most importantly, ensure that your text is well-formatted, free of typos, and edited for grammar and language, highlighting your commitment to accuracy and quality.

You can also check the white papers released by your competitors so that you can better position your white paper.

At Word Nerds, we have written and edited a diverse range of documents and publications. Please contact us to discuss your white paper writing goals and requirements.

If you want to improve business writing skills in your organisation, learn more about our business writing training.

Tips for Writing a Newsletter Article

Whether you are an experienced newsletter article writer or not, writing a newsletter article is a skill that can be developed.

Ever read a newsletter article that made you want to laugh and cry for all the wrong reasons? From a writer’s perspective, the most frustrating thing is that a few handy tips for writing a newsletter article could have saved the reader from a whole world of pain. Below you will find some tips for writing a newsletter article guaranteed to resuscitate even the most jaded readership.

Writing a newsletter article – the beginning

A writer must gain the reader’s interest from the start. If they fail to do this, the reader will likely look for something more interesting to do with their time. This is why titles are the most important words in any text.

Titles often appeal to a readers’ curiosity by withholding information from them. For example, a title such as How can we go on? might flag that the contents of the article are important, without disclosing how. A play on words may similarly pique the reader’s curiosity, while suggesting that the article would be fun to read. For example, They Be Jammin’ might be a catchy title when writing a newsletter article for a scone fundraiser.

The opening paragraph is often a summation of what territory the article will explore. You may want to highlight this paragraph in bold typeface when writing a newsletter article. A picture is also an effective way to get the subject across to your reader. However, this can remove any mystery achieved by your title, so choose the picture with care.

Writing a newsletter article – the middle

The middle, or body of the article, will expand upon the subject raised in the introduction. This may include a short history of the subject, and will almost certainly include the back-story of those involved. Remember, every good article is a story, and every story has a human face. So when writing a newsletter article, add anything that deepens the readers’ appreciation of the importance of the topic. If They Be Jammin’ was a cancer fundraiser, you may mention who started the scone drive, and whether they had cancer, or if the fundraiser was in honour of someone who died from the disease.

Writing a newsletter article – the ending

Similar to the summary that opened the article, the end of the article summarises the take-home message, perhaps with another small story. Returning to our scone drive again, you may wish to provide information on the money raised over the years, or statistics showing a drop in the number of deaths, as scientists close in on finding a cure for the disease. When writing this newsletter article, you may thank individuals by name for their help, or end with a plea to give generously.

Think about language and style when writing a newsletter article

Before signing off, I’d like to leave you with a few quick points on language and style to keep in mind when writing a newsletter article:

  • Make sure your article transitions smoothly from one idea to the next. Keep referring back to the main point of the article to avoid digression.
  • Keep it short. This applies not only to paragraphs, but sentences as well.
  • Avoid jargon, and any words that may require your reader to consult a dictionary.
  • Don’t try to be clever. Use simple language, in a natural, conversational style. This will give your writing authenticity and heart. It’s a way of inviting your reader into your own little world.


Writing an Award Submission to Boost Your Organisation’s Image

Writing an award submission might seem like a big challenge if you are not an experienced award submission writer.  If your award submission writing is successful and you win the award or are a finalist, it’s excellent way to get free publicity and boost your organisation’s image.

While writing an award submission might seem challenging, there are simple points to remember that will help you write your submission and increase your chances of success.

Here are a few tips to consider when writing an award submission:

Answer the questions when writing an award submission.

This might seem like a simple point but is often overlooked. Go over all the questions before writing your submission and consider what is being asked. For example, if the award submission asks about volunteering and community involvement, don’t get into your customer service practices that aren’t connected with the question.

Also, stay within the word count for each question. If not, your award submission might be rejected for not meeting the guidelines.

Use specific examples to answer the questions in your award submission.

For example, in an award submission for a vocational education provider, we wrote the following when answering the question ‘Over and above your core business responsibilities, what sets you apart in the delivery of the services from other providers?’

Our main point of difference is our work experience program which enables our students to gain first-hand industry knowledge. This real-world experience gives our students an edge when they graduate and start seeking employment. Having the practical experience means they can start contributing immediately to the organisations they join. This is a great advantage for our students and the organisations that hire them.

Other things the set us apart from other providers are class sizes and individual attention to students. Each class has a maximum of 20 students, which means that our teachers provide individual attention to our students. Our professional teachers are always available for any students who may require extra support.

Include data in your award submission when appropriate.

Some award submission criteria will ask for specific numbers about your organisation. To improve your chances of success, do the research to find what has been asked for. For example, in response to the question ‘How would you describe the growth of your business in the last 3 years? Please illustrate by using examples such as turnover, profit, number of staff, market share, opening new premises etc.’

The answer we wrote included:

‘Our business has grown substantially in many areas over the last three years. This growth has included increasing:

  • the number of active clients from 230 to 345
  • the number of products we stock from 1,850 to 2,675.
  • staff from 65 to 87
  • capacity to serve more clients by moving our Melbourne warehouse to larger premises and opening our Sydney showroom
  • turnover by 85%
  • profit from 15% of gross sales to 21% of gross sales.’

Keep your writing as simple as possible in your award submission.

Be as simple and clear as possible when writing an award submission. This means avoiding jargon, complicated words and corporate buzzwords. Also, avoid long sentences and long paragraphs as these will make your award submission harder to read. You can get tips on clear and concise business writing in 10 Ways to Improve Your Business Writing and Editing Your Business Writing to Make It More Readable.

Proofread and get feedback before submitting your award submission.

Writing an award submission isn’t the end of the process. Have a colleague read over it to give you feedback for improvement. Getting another perspective can help you add supporting material and clarify anything that might be ambiguous or unclear.

Proofread your award submission as a final step. Check for inconsistencies and grammar and spelling errors. As the writer, you are more likely to overlook your own mistakes. So have a colleague or friend proofread the award submission as well.

Even if you don’t win the award submission, you haven’t wasted your time. You can revise and re-use the content in other documents and publications, such as case studies, company profiles, proposals and capability statements. You have also gained experience as an award submission writer, so you can do better next time.

If you are working on an award submission and need assistance, our award submission writer will be glad to discuss our submission writing and editing services with you.

Michael Gladkoff

Content Writer Ideas for Creating Interesting and Relevant Content

As a content writer, I have had the opportunity to learn about many industries and develop relevant and interesting content.

The role of a content writer is not the same as that of a copywriter. The goal of a content writer is to inform your readers and highlight the organisation’s expertise as an industry leader. On the other hand, a copywriter focuses on promotional writing, which is usually about the features and benefits of your products and services, and the credibility of your organisation.

Given the goals of a content writer, what should you write about?

The first step as a content writer is to stand in the shoes of the potential reader. Questions to ask as a content writer are:

  • What is the profile of the typical reader?
  • What are the problems and challenges that the content will help them solve?
  • What is newsworthy in your sector?

As a freelance content writer, I begin by discussing the target audience with the client and how the organisation’s expertise intersects with readers’ interests. Having this knowledge, we can brainstorm potential topics. This is where the creative process begins for the content writer.

How do you come up with ideas as a content writer?

If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, there are many options creating content. A few ideas include:

  • Developments in your industry
  • Overviews of the latest developments of products and services
  • Changes to legislation and market conditions
  • How to choose the right product or service — regardless of which supplier is chosen
  • Interviews with industry experts.

If you start thinking creatively about content, the topics are seemingly limitless. Here are some examples the articles I have written for a range of businesses:

  •  For a mortgage broker’s website, I wrote articles informative articles on relevant topics that would be of interest to potential home owners and investors. These included:
    • Lender’s Mortgage Insurance
    • Low Doc and No Doc Loans
    • Property Development Funding
    • Cross Collateralisation.
  • As a content writer for a business advisory service, I wrote articles on a number of business topics to help business owners. These included:
    • Using Video Marketing to Build Your Business
    • Choosing the Right Computers For Your Business
    • Cloud Computing Basics
    • Cross-Promotion to Grow Your Business
    • Tips for Stretching Our IT Budget
    • Alternative Financing Options.
  • For a mattress and sleep solutions provider, I wrote articles on a range of sleep related topics. This included:
    • Tips for Choosing the Right Pillow
    • Understanding the Relationship Between The Quality Of Sleep And Blood Pressure
    • How Poor Sleep Can Lead to Increased Stress Levels Throughout the Day
    • The Relationship Between Sleep and Success
    • The Economic Cost of Poor Sleep in Australia.
  • As a content writer for a mortgage industry software solutions provider, I wrote:
    • Articles based on interviews with industry leaders
    • Summaries and relevant highlights of Reserve Bank reports
    • Reports on industry association meetings that I attended
    • Reports on court cases affecting the industry
    • Analysis of legislation and its impacts on mortgage lending professionals.

As mentioned, the role of a content writer is not the same as a copywriter. The content writer informs readers and highlights the organisation’s industry expertise and authority – not promote its products and services.

Michael Gladkoff

Business Writing Training – Selecting a Business Writing Course

Searching online for business writing training will bring up hundreds of results in Australia. So how do you choose the right business writing training for your organisation?

Here are a few questions to consider when looking at the options for training to improve business writing skills:

What is the experience of the trainer delivering business writing training?

Many business writing training courses are taught be facilitators who do not have hands-on experience practising business writing. The trainer will teach a range of courses. For example, negotiating skills, team building, conflict resolution, time management and business writing. These facilitators simply use a facilitator’s guide to stay one step ahead of the students. For best results, choose a business writing trainer who has real world experience in writing and editing business documents.

Does the business writing training address your organisation’s specific needs and challenges?

Each organisation’s skills differ, so it’s essential to tailor training. This begins by discussing and analysing the organisation’s communication. Looking over writing examples from staff members will give the trainer a better understanding of how written communication can be improved. In connection to the previous point, an experienced business writer —who is not just a facilitator — will be able to determine strengths and weaknesses of the organisation’s writing.

Does the business writing training offer the option of follow up coaching?

Business writing training can boost the skills of staff. But will they maintain and implement their new skills? This is where coaching comes in. Following up — in person or with email communication — will reinforce the skills gained from the training.

Does the business writing training offer ongoing supplemental resources?

Access to examples of effective writing and templates will help staff implement and maintain skills gained from the training. These resources can be offered online in a searchable format for easy access.

There are many training options available. The challenge is to find training that will have a lasting impact. Selecting  training based on the above criteria will help you create long-term improvement.

For information on business writing training offered by Word Nerds, go to our Business Writing Brilliance course page.


Should You Use Abbreviations in Your Content Writing?

The controversy concerning the use of abbreviations in content writing was around long before mobile phones and texting. Although using abbreviations in your content writing can be an effective way to save space and get your message across more quickly, it can also hinder your communication by making your writing less clear and understandable.

When to use abbreviations in your content writing

As a general rule, you should only use abbreviations in your content writing when you have very limited space to work with. For example, it can be suitable to abbreviate long words if you don’t have much room to work with – such as in charts, graphs, spreadsheets and footnotes.

Most of the time it is not necessary to abbreviate your words. For example, I was editing a quarterly newsletter for a client who wrote Jan to Mar Newsletter in the heading and in other parts of the publication. There was plenty of room to write January to March Newsletter, but for some reason the writer decided to abbreviate the names of the months.

In editing other publications, I have noticed that some writers tend to abbreviate certain words for no reason. Common examples include mths for months, approx or appx for approximately  and hrs for hours. Again, in most of these instances there was plenty of space and no need to abbreviate these words. From an editor’s perspective (and most likely for readers as well) it looks unprofessional to abbreviate words when it’s not necessary.

Using acronyms in your content writing

Acronyms are a common form of abbreviation found in content writing. They can convey information quickly and with less space. But when should you use them? First, ask yourself ‘Will everyone reading my document understand what the acronym means?’ If not, define the acronym the first time you use it. For example, ‘The Building Code of Australia (BCA) is a uniform set of technical provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other structures throughout Australia.’  If your publication has multiple sections and chapters, you will want to define the term at the beginning of each part because readers won’t always read it from the beginning to the end.

If you use many abbreviations in your documents and publications, and you are not sure all readers will be familiar with them, you should consider including a glossary that defines these terms.

Another time to think about acronyms is when speaking to groups. If you are speaking to an industry group and you are confident that all audience members will understand the terminology, using acronyms will save time. When you are not sure that all audience members will understand the acronyms, define them the first time you use them. For example, ‘Today I will be speaking about our company’s EBITDA last financial year. EBITDA means earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation.’ You might also want to explain the term in more detail if you think it is necessary for some members of your audience.

Refer to style guides for guidance on when and how to use abbreviations in your content writing

Style guides can be very helpful when you have questions about how and when to use abbreviations in your content writing.

In Australia, the Style manual for authors, editors and printers offers a complete chapter with guidance on using abbreviations (shortened forms) in many situations. In summarising shortened forms, the Style manual states:

Writers use shortened forms of words and phrases to produce more compact expression. If readers are familiar with those that are used, communication can be more efficient. But if shortened forms might be new to at least some readers, think carefully about whether the really are necessary. A publications level of formality and the potential number of shortened forms in it should also be taken into account.

Similarly, the Chicago Manual of Style includes a full chapter on using abbreviations and states:

Outside of the area of science and technology, abbreviations and symbols appear most frequently in tabular matter, notes, bibliographies, and parenthetical references. Abbreviations should be used only in contexts where they are clear to readers. Some are never used in their spelled-out form (IQ, GOP, DNA) and may be used without explanation. Others, though in common use (HMO, UPS, AT&T), are normally spelled out at first occurrence — at least in formal text — as a courtesy to those readers who might not easily recognize them. Less familiar ones, however, should be used only if they occur, say, five times or more within an article or chapter, and the terms must be spelled out on the first occurrence.