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English Corner: Which Is It? 29 February 2008

Filed under: Correct English Usage,Writing — worddocdooley @ 11:30am
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One of the most common English-language errors I come across in any kind of writing – whether business, creative, or blog writing – is mixing up it’s with its.

Put simply, its denotes that “it” is a possessive pronoun. It means, more or less, “of it” or “belonging to it”. For example, “She gave the dog its bone.”

Never, ever add an apostrophe (to make it’s) when you are using its in this context. Just don’t. It is plain wrong. The ONLY time you need use it’s is when you are contracting the words it and is, or when it and has are been used together. For example, “It’s sunny outside.” Or, “It’s been known to rain a lot in February.”It is that simple!  

Got a question about grammar or writing in general? Let me know via the comments section, and I’ll try to answer it in a future post. 

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8 Tips to Improve Ezine Copy 26 February 2008

  1. As your ezine is free, do not give away your best content (save that for your paid-for service).
  2. Offer the editor’s personal commentary/angle on news of the industry you cover.
  3. Have the editor develop a voice — people respond to people, not organisations.
  4. Use transparency. Show your editorial process (where you’ve been, whom you’ve spoken with, etc). In other words, show, don’t tell.
  5. Return to core themes. Champion your reader’s concerns. Work their deeper emotions. Find solutions.
  6. Show a personal side. Disarm your reader and develop a relationship by throwing in personal information (“While I was riding my bike this weekend, it struck me that…”).
  7. Differentiate yourself in the market. Use this regular contact with readers to develop special ideas and opinions that give you a chance to develop a niche or unique selling proposition.
  8. Use your ezine as a testing facility for new products. Ask for feedback. Offer teaser versions of new products and see what kind of response you get.

Source: Nic Laight, Fleet Street Publications / SEPA

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Does More Equal Less? 22 February 2008

Blogger Ryan Healey’s recent post, ‘Does Frequent Blogging Encourage Bad Writing?‘, is brewing up a healthy debate in cyberblog land. In particular, with regards to the acceptable level of frequency of blog posts. 

His main point is that some bloggers seem hell bent on whittling off badly written, nonsensical, uninteresting, or just plain boring posts just to say, “Hey, look Google and all you other search engines, I’m blogging every day, so you must come by and see me sometime.” 

He says that far too many people feel compelled to blog every time they have a “brain fart” – and that it is the quality NOT the quantity of blog posts that should be the determining factor.

I agree. In that I’ve stopped reading blogs that keep reeling out more and more posts. Likewise, I’ve stopped reading ezines that land in my inbox daily. My time is of the essence. And so is that of your readers.

So the first thing you absolutely MUST consider – especially when it comes to business blogging – is the preference of your readership. Do they like long, investigative-style blog posts thrice daily, or shorter ones just once per week? Do they want a mixture of the two, but no more than say two-three posts per week? And so on.

Finding out more about your target audience, and their needs and wants is only the first step.

Next, you have to consider your own schedule and reason for blogging in the first instance. There is hardly any point banging out post after post after post on a daily basis if seven months down the line you stop posting for weeks at a time. Consistency, with a few deviations to keep everyone awake is a good thing.

Another crucial factor is added value. Do your posts offer something that is useful, interesting or relevant to your audience? If not, why not?

What about you? What works best for your audience and you?

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Secrets of Successful Women Entrepreneurs 20 February 2008

After you’ve read Secrets of Successful Women Entrepreneurs: How Ten Leading Business Women Turned a Good Idea into a Fortune (Lean Marketing Press, 11 Oct 2005) you’ll be so fired up with enthusiasm and ideas that starting your own business – or expanding the one you run – will not be just a vague ‘want’ but a ‘must’.

It really is that inspirational. Author Sue Stockdale has provided a highly accessible insight into how to start and grow a business, overcome challenges and create success after success.  

What I particularly find refreshing about this book is that it’s not afraid to give a true ‘warts and all’ account of being a woman in business. There are triumphant tales to pick you up again, though. And just to make sure you do get to the top of the career ladder, Stockdale lays out a helpful “seven steps to success” to give you that extra push.

A wonderfully gripping read for both women and men entrepreneurs alike.

RRP: £9.99, but Amazon sells it for £9.49 – get it, regardless! 

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A Click a Day Helps Starving Animals 18 February 2008

Filed under: News — worddocdooley @ 10:39am
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Making www.theanimalrescuesite.com your web browser’s home page and clicking every day will cost you nothing, but the sponsors and advertisers of that site have promised to donate money. Money that funds food and care for those animals most in need.

Go on — please start you day by doing something special… It will only take less than a minute and won’t cost you a penny.

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Online Marketing: Why Colour Matters 15 February 2008

Subscription marketing expert Don Nicholas says colour certainly matters in online marketing.

Don says that when a publisher did an A/B split test of two versions of his landing page, one fared substantially better than the other. The only difference was that one had an order button that said “Order Now” in navy blue type on a dark orange (ochre) background, while the other version had black font on a red background.

The navy/ochre order button generated 27% more orders than the red button – more proof as to how seemingly small changes can make a big difference to the bottom line.

Why such a big difference, though? Well, most people regard the colour red as ‘hot’ and attention-seeking. But in certain online and offline marketing elements it can work against you. This is because red also means “Stop!”

Says Don: “Is that really what you want the reader to do when he gets to a button that says ‘order now’?”

Source: NEPA Presentation on Landing Pages  

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Distance (Business) Relationships 12 February 2008

Filed under: Small Business — worddocdooley @ 2:59pm
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It is understandable to be apprehensive when it comes to hiring outside help, especially if the outsourcing solution or freelancer works hundreds or more miles away from your office.But get the basics right and it should be plain sailing from the outset.

  • Ask relevant questions to make sure the freelancer understands your needs and up to the job in hand.
  • Check references. Be leery of any freelancer who can’t supply any positive client feedback (unless they are starting out, of course. But even then err on the side of caution).
  • Make sure both you and the freelancer are aware and understand one another’s expectations and responsibilities.
  • Check all terms and conditions. Are you happy with them? Is there room for flexibility?
  • Start with a small project. This way you won’t be risking too much while you suss out how reliable the freelancer is.
  • Check in from time to time to see how things are going. Most good freelancers will do this as a matter of course if the project is likely to extend beyond a few weeks.
  • Don’t panic if you don’t hear from the freelancer – he or she may be busy working on your project, and will get back to you on a second ‘nudge’. After all, good communication is vital to long-distance business relationships.
  • Reliability can be hard to come by in any situation. If you find a freelancer that you can count on, it makes sound business sense to hire that person again. But don’t leave it to the last minute: many good freelancers are booked up weeks or even months in advance.  

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