November 11th, 2013 — Uncategorized
The English language is a tricky beast to master.
If you don’t believe me have a read of this email I found on Facebook. It’s written by a retired English teacher and it fantastic. It beautifully illustrates how complex English is to such an extent that it makes you wonder how any of us are able to communicate with each other.
This took a lot of work to put together!
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture..
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert..
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear..
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig..
And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.
English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
PS. – Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’ ?
You lovers of the English language might enjoy this .
There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is ‘UP.’
It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ?
At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?
Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?
We call UP our friends.
And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.
We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.
At other times the little word has real special meaning.
People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.
To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.
A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.
We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary.
In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.
It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t giveUP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.
When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.
When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.
When it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry UP.
One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP,
for now my time is UP,
so…….it is time to shut UP!
Now it’s UP to you what you do with this email.
November 8th, 2013 — blog, blogging
If you’re a blogger, you need to come up with a constant stream of great blog ideas people are going to want to read.
But how do you do that?
Surely, sooner or later you’ll hit a brick wall.
That’s where brainstorming comes in. Here are a few techniques you can use to come up with fresh ideas.
As a business owner, you’re bound to think your product or service is the best thing since sliced bread.
But it’s important to be self-critical and anticipate your customers’ potential criticisms before they make them. That way, you can create a blog post counters them and shows how your product and service can be used to great effect.
2. Don’t be yourself
The problem you face is that you’re too close to your business.
It’s time to think like a child. A child’s imagination is an incredible tool, so think as they would when writing about your product and create some fun and perhaps controversial blog posts.
It’s also easy to get complacent about how your products work, taking things for granted that may not be so obvious to others. Think about that and see if you can produce blog posts that clarify products and services and perhaps suggest using them in ways your readers may not have thought of before.
When planning your posts, see if you can create titles that use metaphors – such as ‘Starting a Business is Like Childbirth’. It will help create eye-catching titles that will make readers want to click and read more.
Don’t become too blinkered by your own knowledge. Be curious and read around your subject. Learning new ideas and techniques will help strengthen your writing and, potentially, your product or service.
5. Get out
Sitting in an office (or home office) and staring at a blank computer screen is not the best way to spark creativity.
Get out and about, talk to people, get some fresh air – a change in your environment will help trigger ideas and add a new dimension to your blogging.
None of this is ground breaking stuff, but every now and then it’s good to have a reminder of the basics.
Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd. Follow her on Twitter and Google+
November 6th, 2013 — Building a business, Freelance advice, freelance copywriter, freelance copywriting
Isn’t it everyone’s dream?
Working from home, no long morning commute, peace and quite and being on time for dinner every night.
It sounds idyllic, but for many it’s a culture shock too far.
So how do you successfully adapt from an office life to one working from home?
Life in the office can be frustrating, political, competitive and noisy.
But having said that it’s a dynamic environment full of like minded people who you can bounce ideas off, have a laugh with and confide in.
Of course, the downside is that you have to be at your desk at a certain time and, at times, can feel pressured to be the last one to leave to show your dedication.
That’s why so many people want to work from home, but is it really so idyllic?
Working from home
I’ve been working from my home office for about 10 years now (in various roles, presently as a copywriter) and have learnt how to cope with the different pressures and difficulties home working throws at me.
1. Designated workspace
The most important aspect of successfully working from home is having your own dedicated workspace.
Using a room that has a double purpose (i.e. your office that’s also your kitchen/dining room/living room/spare room) is doomed to failure from the beginning.
You must have your own space that you can set up as a permanent office that feels separate to the rest of the house.
My office is downstairs. Its sole purpose is as an office so all my computers, papers and files are set up as I want them without having to clear everything away at the end of the day.
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep a regular work schedule.
OK, there’s no boss breathing down your neck if you’re not at your desk by 9am, but that doesn’t mean you can just drift in and out whenever you feel like it.
It’s important to structure your day as if you were at the office. Make sure you’re at your desk at the same time each day and finish on time. When working from home it’s very easy to be sucked into the ‘just 5 more minutes’ mentality that inevitably sees you still at your desk at 10 o’clock at night.
Have a set start and finish time. Although be prepared to be flexible, especially if you also have a family to think about.
Without the chatter of colleagues and the lure of the staff room, it’s easy to sit at your desk in the morning and not move until you run out of steam in the afternoon.
Regular breaks are essential to keep your motivation and energy levels up. Get out for some fresh air, have a coffee with friends and make sure you take a lunch break. That way you’ll break up your day (just as you would in the office), you’ll get some fresh air and that much needed human contact.
No one can see you. There’s no boss to have a go at you. However, that doesn’t mean you should sit at your desk in your PJs.
I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that you don a suit when working from home (unless you really want to), but dress smartly to reinforce the fact that you’re at work.
5. I’m working!
Another thing to consider, especially if you live with someone else and/or have a family, is to get other members of the household to appreciate the fact that, although you’re at home, you’re working.
It’s very easy for people to think that because you’re at home you can also get the housework, washing and all manner of other household chores done because simply because you’re there.
It’s up to you to make sure they understand that you are working.
If you want to work from home can be isolating so it’s important that you chat with colleagues just as you would in the office, but on top of that, you must also be:
Pretty much the same qualities you need in an office environment too, you just won’t have the boss breathing down your neck all the time.
November 4th, 2013 — blog, blogging
You’ve read all the blogs and advice telling you that content is the best way to market your business on line.
Religiously, you’ve followed all the advice of the experts, generated loads of content, created your own content strategy and yet, nothing’s happening.
Your content isn’t drawing in the traffic promised by the experts.
What’s gone wrong?
There are a number of reasons why your strategy isn’t working, but here are, potentially, the 10 most likely culprits:
You are writing stuff you love.
What about your readers?
What do they want to know? Surely, you’ll be more effective if you write about things that they want to know. After all, your content is there to attract readers not to massage your ego.
It’s time to put your wants on the back burner and think about your readers.
Look at your posts. Are they all pretty similar?
Your audience wants variety. They want to learn new things from you, so don’t regurgitate the same old stuff over and over.
Be bold and experiment with different ideas and different types of posts. Offer written posts, infographics, videos, podcasts etc. Mix it up a bit and keep them interested.
3. Go for quality
Are you obsessed with the number of times you post in a week?
Forget it. So long as you post regularly, it’s more important to concentrate on the quality of your posts. What’s the point in publishing 10 mediocre posts in a week that don’t attract anyone, when working on 2 or 3 high quality posts that give your readers what they want will be far more effective?
It’s this attention to detail and quality that will set you apart from other bloggers in your industry.
4. Be true to your style
Corporate blogs create their own problems, namely the number of contributors. Keeping the same style and brand image can be difficult, which is why it’s essential you produce some firm guidelines for everyone to follow.
If you just write about safe subjects in a safe way, your readers are going to get bored.
Don’t be afraid to be controversial, after all that’s what’s going to get you noticed.
Challenge the status quo, throw in some radical ideas now and then and get some conversations started with your readers. Getting your stuff noticed is what it’s all about.
6. Call to action
How often do you add a call to action into your blog posts?
It doesn’t have to be a ‘buy my product/service now’, but a simple ‘what are your thoughts on this? Leave a comment below’ will show your readers you’re interested in what they have to say and want to hear from them.
You can also use your call to action to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter or RSS feed – whatever you want really.
7. Where to post?
It’s important to have one main channel for your posts. Ideally, this will be your blog.
Then, you can create new posts and guest posts for other websites to attract a whole new audience to your work. However, by having one main outlet your readers will know where to go for their next fix.
8. Tow the line
Following on from point 4, when you have a number of contributors to your blog it is vital you have one person to oversee everything. It will be their job to make sure posts are written, that they follow your style guidelines and that comments are responded to.
People read blogs because they want to learn from experts.
You are an expert in your field so carve out a niche for yourself and write about what you know best.
Before long, they will get to know you are the expert in the field of pink widgets (or whatever your niche happens to be) and they’ll keep coming back for your latest words of wisdom.
Your readers are creatures of habit and like to know when you’re next nugget of wisdom will be published. That’s why it’s important to stick to your posting schedule.
If, for any reason, you have to deviate from your normal posting pattern, let them know.
These are just 10 potential reasons why your content is failing to hit the mark.
When you decide to enter the world of content marketing, it’s essential you realise that it is an ongoing marketing strategy and not something you can just pick up when you get a spare 5 minutes.
Commitment, originality and determination are what will help you succeed.
November 1st, 2013 — Becoming a guest blogger, blog, blogging, blogging for business
There are several ways to get links for your website, one of which is guest blogging.
But with so many companies out there placing sub-standard blogs on websites in return for a paid for link, how can genuine bloggers be sure their links count in the eyes of Google and not classed as paid for links?
This video from Google’s Matt Cutts should help.
Thanks Matt for your words of wisdom.