Create the Moment for Your Readers

old books on a shelf

It’s been a rough morning. The puppies have been barking to be let out (perhaps, as corgis, they’re excited about the royal wedding?), my laptop just had a massive update and my email server isn’t working.

But I fed two of my addictions – my new Kat Von D 10th Anniversary makeup palette (and an Anastasia Beverly Hills lippy) arrived by courier, and I watched the latest edition of RuPaul’s Drag Race – so it can’t all be bad.

I still haven’t started work and it’s 13:40pm. Guess I’ll be working tomorrow then?

*bear with me people, it’s been a long morning – Windows decided to take an HOUR to update when I turned my laptop on*

KatVonD and the editor

Looks, it’s me, I’m real and I have pretties.

This week’s inspiration comes from a comment Ross Mathews made on Drag Race, season 10, episode 9.

He was talking to my favourite queen, Miz Cracker (she’s great).

While I was watching Drag Race, eating my breakfast and looking forward to a day of interesting things (oblivious to the fact that I should have turned on my laptop first), Ross made a comment that made me sit up and take notice.

He told Cracker (I’m paraphrasing here …)

Don’t get caught up in the details,

when you’re creating a moment you have to let go.

Oh. My. Goodness.

He is so right!

Look, I’m going to say something here, and you may hate me for it. Especially if you are in the same business that I am – editing, proofreading, copywriting … words, words, words.

dictionary words

 

You can spend so much time looking at the detail that you lose the big picture.

 magnifying glass

Remember the phrase I coined a few weeks ago, the ‘Perfectpreneur’? We spend so much time looking at perfectpreneurs, and at the details surrounding them, that we forget we’re just as good and just as capable as them. Do my exercise if you don’t believe me.

When we work, we spend so much time checking the details – the spelling, grammar, syntax – that we can forget we’re creating a moment for the reader.

Sure, details are important – if you don’t check the details and you’re a copyeditor or proofreader then you aren’t doing your job properly. BUT you shouldn’t spend so much time on them that you forget the end user.

 

You can’t lose the big picture because if you do you lose the moment for the reader.

Sometimes you just have to let go.

let go

Let go of the overly academic text or the business jargon and give the reader room to breathe. Create the moment by using plain language and make them WANT to read your damn paper.

Let go of the perfect English and aim your writing at the level that’s needed. So, start a sentence with ‘so’, and ‘and’, and ‘but’ if you want to. No one is going to die from an informal piece of writing.

Let go of the rigid formality that’s strangling us all. Life is short. Create that moment in the way that’s best for the work in hand.

Just let go.

Create the moment.

Understand that unless your piece of writing is destined for greatness it may not be remembered that long. It’s a tough thought. But it’s true. Look at all the books in the bookshops and all the adverts, leaflets, brochures, websites, TV programmes, radio programmes, YouTube videos …

woman, networking, social media, network

 

Create the moment for your readers, whoever they are, and they’re likely to remember you for longer.

Who remembers the staid, boring, formal academic paper that they have to wade through?

Who remembers the word-perfect, boringly detailed, book with no soul?

Sure, check the details but never forget the big picture.

Create the moment, people.

Let go.

5 Steps To Effective Communication

coffee, notebook, notepad, writing

Let’s get things straight.

Writing is a form of communication.

Your English may be perfect, but if you can’t communicate well, your audience is going to give up pretty quickly

So here are a few quick tips for effective communication:

1. Know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Before you write anything make sure you’ve made notes. Get everything down in note form and it will focus your mind to the task in hand. This way you won’t miss anything and it will all become clearer to you before you put pen to paper. Clear objectives make for clearer prose.

happy woman

Make it clear, keep them happy

2. Know who your audience is. There’s no point in writing the same thing for a bunch of academics and a load of high school students. Keep the language audience appropriate. If it’s too academic for the reader it will put them off, and you’ll come across as a snob. If it’s too basic, you’ll come across as condescending. Keep your writing at the correct level, and if you don’t know what that is ask around or go look at texts aimed at the same audience.

scared child

don’t make her read your company newsletter

3. Get rid of the jargon. There’s no point in using jargon unless you’re writing for industry professionals, and even then you should try to ditch the jargon. By using jargon you are, right from the beginning, alienating those who aren’t sure what the jargon means.

cross-157492_1280

ditch the jargon

4. Keep things simple. Plain English is brilliant. No one wants to read something that they can’t understand, so get rid of the arsey language and make your writing something that everyone wants to read. If you mean a ‘bin man’, say a bin man and not a household refuse technician. If you mean ‘wages’ say that and not ‘institutional renumeration packages’. It’s easy to keep things simple if you think about what you’re writing.

tightrope man

reading shouldn’t take that much concentration

5. Break it down. If you have a load of stuff to get across your audience, a great way to communicate effectively is to break it down into digestable pieces. There’s no shame in using lists and bullet points. It’s preferable to a whole heap of long paragraphs that become convoluted and lose their way. Break it down for your audience and they’ll thank you for it.

list

make a list

So, there you go. Five steps to great, effective, simple communication.

If you have any of your own, pop them in the comments.

This blog sponsored by ‘We’re getting puppies and I’m too busy to write a big blog post’.

In association with ‘Orignally written on an ipad, which suddenly deleted the post for no good reason’.

corgi pups cartoon

Ten Reasons You Absolutely Must Network If You Are A Freelancer

networking, meeting, business

Network.

You must network.

 

Whether you’re a writer, an editor, a designer, a llama wrangler or any other type of freelancer you MUST network.

 

This is non-negotiable if you want to survive your freelancing years.

alpaca who isnt networking

ok, it’s an alpaca, not a llama, but it’s not networking and it looks sad.

I know, it’s a pain. You’d rather walk over hot coals than go to that networking event or join an online forum. Heaven forbid if you have to actually talk to anyone. I know, I sympathise, it can be the most awful thing in the world. But it must be done.

You know what? For years I didn’t network. Honestly, I sat in isolation not being able to get out to networking events in person and not taking advantage of online networking (ok, at the time there were few online networking places, but still I could have tried harder). I attended a few professional meetings, but stayed in the background. Do you know where my freelancing career went?

Nowhere. It went nowhere.

People, you NEED to network.

empty stadium, lonely freelancer

Here’s why:

  1. It builds relationships with your peers.

    Getting to know other freelancers in your business is good for everyone. Don’t see them as rivals, see them as friends. Soon you will have a network of likeminded souls who you can rely on to be there when you need them, and you can be there for them too. Share your failures and your successes, learn from those more experienced than yourself and help those with less experience. It’s all good.

  2. It builds relationships with potential customers.

    Get to know them and help them where you can. Go to networking events geared towards your ideal customer. Answer their questions, help them out and they’ll remember you for all the right reasons. Word of mouth is still king

  3. It builds business confidence.

    You can see where you are going right and you can get help if you’re going wrong. Use your local Business Gateway or regional business advisers, they often have talks and networking opportunities. Use your local Chamber of Commerce or the Federation of Small Businesses if you think they will be of use. It’s a great way to let yourself see just how good you actually are at your job. Freelancers don’t get the feedback that the employed do, networking can help fill that gap.

  4. It facilitates learning.

    Networking allows you to identify gaps in your professional knowledge and allows you to address them. Through networking you can spot the perfect development opportunities that may not be immediately obvious to the lone freelancer.

  5. It opens doors.

    It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. It’s a cliché for a reason, and it’s as true today as it’s always been. Networking gets your name out there. You will get to know people who you feel confident passing work on to when you can’t fit it into your schedule, and know who to recommend for certain jobs out of your remit. In turn, others will get to know you and pass work to you, or recommend you to clients.

    wall of doors, choices

  6. It allows you to understand your business environment.

    With all the will in the world, it’s much, much harder to understand your working environment if you’re only used to the theory. You can train til you are blue in the face, but it’s only by actually ‘doing’ that you will become knowledgeable in your chosen field. Networking allows you gain understanding through talking to those more experienced than yourself. You can see how others tackle business, see what works and what doesn’t and put this into practice with more confidence.

  7. It allows you to spot opportunities.

    The smart freelancer can spot gaps in the market, see what’s needed or even find a whole new direction to go in. Effective networking can lead you down avenues you would never consider in isolated working.

  8. It builds your communication skills.

    Very few people start off as confident communicators, it’s something that’s learnt. The more you network the easier it gets. Pretty quickly you’ll find out what works for you and what doesn’t – and soon your communication skills will improve.

  9. It can help you break away from the monotony of your own four walls.

    There’s no getting away from it, networking in person can give you break. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of going somewhere new, to meet new people and learn new things. Networking can make you a more adaptable human being. So what if it takes you out of your comfort zone?

  10. It brings you new friends.

    This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of networking. Freelancing can be a lonely business, and you can be amazingly good at your job, but if you have no one to talk to about it, to chat with over coffee or meet up virtually with over forums and social media, you will feel isolated and deflated. Networking on an informal level can help form strong bonds and friendships that can last a lifetime.

power rangers, super group

Why be alone when you can be a freelancer with a network?

See? It may feel daunting. You may feel like a gatecrasher or an imposter to begin with. But you MUST network. It’s good for your business and it’s good for your soul.