Blog: Content writing and content strategy insights

Nine digital content skills that open up many job opportunities

People who know how to write well for digital media — websites, intranets, social media, blogs, e-newsletters — have amazing career opportunities.

Today when you write for work, you need to understand 'digital'. Digital technology is a game-changer for writers and communicators.

People who write for work must know how to:

  1. attract online readers
  2. improve search rankings
  3. use metadata and keywords
  4. follow web standards
  5. use a content management system properly
  6. write for mobile devices
  7. write plain English
  8. write for Google Translate
  9. publish on multiple channels.

    Continue Reading >

    How content strategy got hijacked by content marketing

    A funny thing happened on the way to establishing content strategy as a legitimate career path and professional role: the phrase got hijacked by content marketers...

    Continue Reading >

    Facebook for business, marketing, professional development

    Facebook: it's all about you—yes you—and us too!
    You probably write or manage content of some sort, like most Contented readers, and that's certainly a big part of what we do here at Contented. By now, we're all aware that content includes everything on social media sites and social intranets. So you are probably writing stuff for Twitter or an inhouse microblog, and you may be involved with a Facebook page for a company, organization or interest group. If not, you are starting to feel twitchy every time somebody says this:

    'You should be on Facebook!'
    The reasons are undeniable. A Facebook page quickly improves search results, bringing many more people to your web site. Facebook is the favourite playground for millions who use it for most online activities. And while Facebook numbers may be declining, they're still in the multimillions.

    We need to be competent on Facebook
    To function in a digital world, most professionals ought to be competent in the Facebook environment. They need to understand the culture and write appropriately, knowing the opportunities and also the dangers. People who need to understand Facebook include:

    • business owners
    • teachers, lecturers, professors
    • bloggers, anyone in corporate communications
    • online marketers
    • technical writers
    • HR staff and consultants
    • all staff in organizations with a social intranet.

    We blog, we tweet. But for various reasons, we have been wary of entering Facebook despite knowing we should for strategic business purposes. Last Sunday we finally took the plunge and launched a Facebook page for Contented. We now volunteer as guinea pigs on your behalf!

    Discussions, Q & A, new products and special offers
    We see our Facebook page as a useful and entertaining place for people who love to write, hate to write or have to write. We'll be on tap to answer questions about writing, join in discussions, and help solve problems. Polls and contests will inform and inspire us all, we hope. And you can keep up with new courses as they are released, and occasional special offers.

    Learn alongside us about Facebook strategy
    Facebook.com/writing.skills will be a safe place to learn about writing for Facebook and other social media. Just watch what we do and how others respond: you know we're new to Facebook so we are bound to make mistakes, bound to have some struggles.

    If you are also new to Facebook, you can surely learn a great deal from writing on our wall and joining in the conversation.

    If you're already at home in Facebook, we will certainly welcome your advice. Please teach us and help us!

    The power of the Like button
    You see it everywhere. Good idea to be wary, but on the Contented Facebook page, the button won't bite you.

    To keep in touch, to post on the wall, to enter our first photo contest, you need to hit that Like thumb on our Facebook page.

    Go on. You know you want to!

    How many domains should you buy?

    A client is developing a major web resource. He bought what seemed the ideal domain for one year, then reconsidered and bought two more domains, again for one year each.

    Now our client has asked us:

    Do you think that it would be a good business decision to capture all three of these domain names in perpetuity (for all 3 it will cost about $1000 for 10 years). Or should I stick with one or two (and if so, which?).

    We have been in a similar situation so often, with various projects on the go or in the mind. To protect a good idea we have sometimes been domain gluttons.

    As a general rule—and every rule has exceptions*—we'd recommend a compromise.

    1. First buy the best domain for 5 or 10 years. (The ideal domain name includes keywords, is short, and easy to remember, spell, and pronounce.)
    2. Also, buy the other contenders for a year or so while you experiment and monitor results. If you find a majority of people go straight to a secondary domain, that one might be worth keeping.

    In the end, the best defence against people poaching a near equivalent of your domain is the quality of your web site. People get to know which site they really want.

    Also, there are always another 20 domains you think maybe you should buy. Now add the .com, .org, .info, .mobi, .biz and .asia variants, and thus the hunger can never be fully satisfied.

    I am sure our client has some great technical people to work with. Who knows, his organization may even have a policy for domain names.

    *Exceptions: billionaires, multinationals, domain traders, anal-retentive obsessives, and others I can't think of right now.

    Image from newbiewebsitedesign.com

     

    Tip: Write what the reader needs to know

    It's tempting to write what you need to say. That's good, if you're writing a book or a poem. That's bad, if you're writing a web page or any document that is supposed to be helpful or even useful to the public.

    Here's an extreme example from the small web site of Pestoff Animal Control Products.

    What 99% of readers want from the home page is, I presume, information about Pestoff products and an easy way to buy them. Reasonable?

    Instead, this is what we read on the home page.

    Thank you for visiting us.

    Our site is dedicated to informing you about our highly successful products, services, distributors and clients. This is the launch page for taking you around our site and providing you with information about our business.

    Use the buttons on the left to find out about our company, its products and services, its clients and our collective achievements.

    You can also click on the link buttons in text at the bottom of each page or click on the button/bars within the text below to obtain specific information.

    We are proud to hold ISO 9001/2000 accreditation. Click on the logo opposite to view our ISO9001/2000 certification details as issued by Bureau Veritas Quality International.

    Fascinating? Just what you needed to know? Thought not.

    Think what the reader needs to know. Then write what the reader needs to know.

    Pestoff.co.nz — Let's hope this inspires them to upgrade their web site. Don't let's be too scornful, either: any of us could fall into the same trap.

     

    Business growth: not lilies of the field

    About nine years ago, a friend gave me a Christmas lily. Glorious white flower, one tall stalk, small pot. As a model for business growth, the lily was pathetic.

    After it bloomed I popped the bulb into the garden, as you do. Since then, I've seen nothing but the occasional leafy stem until this year, when I counted no less than nine stems in full bloom. They'd infiltrated the entire garden: one for every fallow year.

    When the Wellington winds began trashing the flowers, I rescued them and brought them inside. Beautiful. So shiny, thick, scented. So assertive. So very green and white.

    That's a pretty erratic harvest, however.

    At the same time I was reading that you should start a business with the definite intention of selling it after 5 years: that implies a much faster return on investment than for the lilies of the field.

    The 5-year sale plan makes a lot of sense, whether or not you eventually sell. It means taking the business seriously, pouring energy and time into it, not just playing. It means creating a business that doesn't depend on your presence.

    And it means back-pedalling on development at a certain point in favour of sales.

    This is perhaps the hardest thing for small businesses, most of which begin because someone is passionate about developing a product or service. Typically the new business owner doesn't have a clue about marketing, and I'm typical— I'd much rather be creating new online courses than marketing. Well, too bad!

    And so I ruminated on gales and sales. Then dutifully returned to marketing.

    Happy Facebook birthday!

    Larry Brauner is 58 this week. And he's celebrating for four days with a virtual birthday party on Facebook.

    Larry's Facebook party

    Now, I have no idea what fizzbang shenanigans are planned, but the very idea is an example of what he stands for: thinking outside the box. It makes me smile, frown and puzzle.

    It's obvious that we haven't even started using Facebook in a million extraordinary and rewarding ways.

    And that fills me with horror: "Oh no! You mean I'm going to have to *think* about this?"... and pleasure: "Thank heavens, someone has smashed the mould."

    So, Larry gets a festival of responses. He offers floor prizes, and here at Contented.com we certainly intend to offer one. He hurls a bunch of bloggers into one spot for a purpose that's more social than marketing.

    And repercussions start percussing. Reverberations start verbing.

    Let this genial, ingenious idea wander where it will.

    How quickly the shiny-new Facebook became boring-boring same-old same-old. I'm happy to say that Larry's virtual party has already seeded my brain with other social marketing ideas.

    Also, as another person who is not exactly in the first flush of youth, I'm tickled pink to see him declare his age without the hint of a blush. Go Larry!