Business

When your spouse wants to leave you because of your poor writing

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I am often asked why I started editorr and how I came up with the idea. The answer is quite simple. I saw a problem that needed to be solved and I solved it. Easy, right?

It started with my co-founder, Boris. He is one of the smartest and nicest guys whom I have ever met. Boris was born in Russia, and English is not his first language. He had recently spent several years in Singapore working at a high-level tech job. He was in charge of a very large team that consisted of some of the most intelligent people in his industry. He explained to me how he realized that most of his co-workers, especially those who are first-generation Americans, couldn’t write. We are talking about senior level executives here. Sure, they had admin assistants and departments to help them with documentation and technical writing… but that just wasn’t enough. While English is the language of business, he often found it tedious at best and impossible at worst to deduce what business e-mails were saying. Many of his colleagues were aware of their own shortcomings; some believed they were passed over for promotions in favor of expatriates who were less qualified but better able to clearly express themselves in English. So there you have it, the basis.

We joked about how we both struggled with our writing and how we continually relied on our wives to fix our writing, as well as how they grew impatient with their workday being interrupted by our “writing requests”. This was our “there has to be a better way” moment. We discussed how there were so many “on demand” services that were popping up and how there should be one for writing. Once we considered further about how often we would use this service, we realized that there is a larger community that would greatly benefit from it.

Therefore, we decided to build a solution with simplicity and convenience in mind. An easy-to-use, curated service such as editorr has exponential applications and possibilities.

Don’t jeopardize your relationships with poor writing.

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blog

Get Serious About Blogging

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Recently, Pinterest and Instagram have gotten all the press, as businesses frantically race to establish a foothold on what may be the next super–site. But that doesn’t mean they’re the most useful social media tools for all companies. Sure, some companies shine on those photo-based networks. However, for companies and people that aim to be recognized for their ideas, the clearest — yet most underrated — path is through blogging. It seems like blogging has not been talked about in years; still it’s considerably more essential than ever, as some companies recognize.

Indeed, if you want to shape public opinion, you need to be the one developing the narrative. An amazing study by Yahoo!showed that only 20,000 Twitter users (a mere 0.05% of the user base at the time) produce 50% of all tweets consumed. A small number of “elite users” set the conversational tenor, just as in the overall community of blogging.

Blogging’s ability to impact conventional discourse has never been better. Decades ago, we knew that when someone decided to put something on the web — but not in an actual paper — it was a brushoff. Fewer people would see the web content, and (before Google) it would dissipate into non–existence; it wasn’t solid like a real paper on someone’s doorstep. Now, the hierarchy has been turned around; content lives eternally on the internet and will be seen all around the world.  Nowadays, we’re measured by the quality of content — not its brand name. If you create top-notch content, you may legitimately become a source as powerful and trusted as the “legacy media.”

Of course, it’s no secret that the number of blogs has skyrocketed in recent years. At the end of 2016, there were 350 million blogs, compared to only 152 million in 2013. It’s harder to be noticed as the noise level grows. But there is cause to think that serious (high-quality, idea-focused) competition in the blogging community is likely to decline in the future, thereby increasing your influence.

One cause is the sad decline of the paid news media, which has nearly cut in half the number of professional journalists  gathering information and providing quality content.  Next, amateur bloggers are likely to drop,  simply because it’s a hard job to keep up at a high level. Creating an informative 1000 word article several times a week, for little or no money, is much more challenging than snapping a photo or sending a 140–character tweet. This is part of the reason the level of blogging is decreasing among teens and young adults, who would rather spend their time on social networks instead.

Writing is still the clearest and most definitive medium for demonstrating expertise online. As long as your content is rich and thoughtful, you can still establish an enormous following and reputation, no matter your channel. In an information-hungry world, there will always be a need for expert content. And there will always be more readers and “retweeters” than there will be creators.

If you want to be influential, you might as well be the one setting the itinerary by blogging your information.

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blog

If You Want People To Read What You Write

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Whether you know it or not, when you write an e-mail, you are designing. And good design gives you an edge. How big of an edge? It’s the difference between getting read or getting ignored. You don’t have to understand Photoshop or other design software to be able to write clean business communications. You just have to develop an attention for the difference between visual order and visual distractions.

Since you are probably like me and don’t have time to take a design course, here are some basic rules:

  • Ask yourself: Does this writing have a sense of structure, or is looking at it painful?
  • Shorten your writing. Get to the point and be respectful of your audiences time.
  • Tidy up messes. Even if you did not make the mess, your recipient will thank you.  If you’re sending someone a thread but only one sentence of it is important, remove the unnecessary 34,000 words. Delete automatically generated dotted lines, indentations, and fonts in multiple colors.
  • Cut down on the total of hard returns, particularly in e-mails. They generate visual noise.
  • Steer clear of large, massive blocks of text. Absolutely no one will read them.
  • Don’t get fancy. If you haven’t taken a design course, stick with a classic font. Don’t use more than three font variations on a page. That means changing typeface, size, or style (i.e. italics or bold). Don’t underline.
  • For e-mails, pick a font that is web safe (e.g. Arial, Helvetica, Lucida Sans, Verdana). That way, you will ensure that the way your message seems to you is the way it will appear to the reader.
  • Learn to use pull quotes. If you have a long chunk of text, take out the most significant sentence and create asimple way in for the audience, like a magazine would.
  • Understand to enjoy white space. Don’t load the page edge to edge with writing. Leave room for items to breathe.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Break up a business plan or a memo with professional graphics. Stock photography or illustration houses like iStock and Pexels are your friend. Just make sure not use tacky pictures.
  • Be attentive with color if you don’t know what you’re doingyou could hurt someone. Stick to one color, like black,to be safe and use shades of gray to add class.

If you forget all of this, just think simplicity. Less is more. Good design doesn’t insert thingsit takes stuff away. Don’t get fancy; don’t overdo anything; and don’t use gimmicks. Simplicity and power are not mutually exclusive. They are often one and the same. Do any of these annoy you or are you guilty of any?

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Business

How To Jerk-Proof Your Emails

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Maybe you are in a hurry. Maybe you are trying to be funny. Maybe you are having a bad day.

But none of these things matter to the person on the receiving end of your messages. When communicating through email,people can’t hear you or see your face. Therefore, you have to be extremely careful with how you word things. I know my biggest issue in writing is putting in you instead of your.

I try to always keep a smile on my face whenever I draft emails (especially when I am angry). Still, sometimes that doesn’t cut it, and I have to be reminded of some common email etiquette rules.

Case in point, here’s an email I sent recently in response to something I’d received:

“I don’t know what you are talking about. I am not an accountant.”

Now that I read it, I’m having a good laugh. I simply cannot believe I wrote it that way. At the time, I didn’t mean anything bad by it. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful. I was just trying to explain that I was confused by the email since I am not an accountant.

But that’s not how it came across, and I can admit that. It reads more like, “You are wasting my time. Go bother someone else.”

I am really glad that the recipient pointed out to me how my note might come across to somebody who does not know me very well.

“People read different things within email messages. Read through your email again and tell me just how it sounds.”

Yikes!

Here are a few suggestions for jerk-proofing your emails:

  • When you write email, put a smile on your face. A lot of the time it will come through in what you write.
  • Prior to hitting send, read your email aloud.
  • Ask yourself, “Just what would I think if someone sent this email to me?”
  • Sarcasm doesn’t translate properly via email. But if you absolutely must use it, make sure it is clear.

Using these simple tips has helped me seem like less of a jerk in my emails. Has this ever happened to you?

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Business

Content Editing for Dummies

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Content isn’t just an SEO strategy. It establishes your brand’s voice and proves you’re an authority. If your content is well-written and engaging, your audience will keep coming back for more.

To be effectively engaging, your digital content needs to be well-written. Well-written content is ultimately well-edited content. It should be clear, concise, and to the point. Spellcheck simply can’t replace the human touch. If you’re going to make a good first impression, your work needs to be polished and professional — every time.


If your goal is compelling content, consider these four tips the next time you put pen to paper (or fingers to keys):

1. Remember Your Message
A lot of writers lose sight of their point midway through writing an article. They may slip into a lengthy digression, or somehow end up with content that’s completely off-topic. Ask yourself if every single sentence serves the main point of your article. If one doesn’t, change it or cut it out completely. If you’re looking at a particularly lengthy digression, consider writing a follow-up article down the road.  There’s no need to cram everything into one piece.

2. Read It Aloud
Your brain may forgive a lot of grammar errors but your mouth won’t. Reading out loud forces you to slow down, unearthing sneaky grammatical errors, as well as clumsy and repetitive wording.

3. “Kill Your Darlings”
Not literally (it’s a Faulkner quote). Editing involves a certain willingness to be brutal. Sometimes, that may mean telling an author that her work simply isn’t very good, or asking what she means by a particularly opaque turn of phrase. Don’t forget that as an editor, your job is to make the author shine, even when it hurts her pride.

4. Hire a Professional
A lot of people think that because they are avid readers, they can write well. It’s true that the digital information age has made writers out of all of us, but writing is a craft, honed over time. So is content editing. If you’re neither a professional writer nor professional editor, you probably haven’t honed that skill set. There’s no shame in that. Just as you’d hire a professional plumber or electrician, you should consider hiring a professional editor to make certain your written content is top-notch.

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