140729 - Blog - Language NinjaAs a professional writer of web content, I am constantly fielding queries about what is and isn’t appropriate in terms of written communications and language use. Here are my responses to three of the most oft-repeated questions, one of which I didn’t just make up.

Question: R txt msg abbs apropri8 4 wrk? (Are text message abbreviations appropriate for work?)

Answer: It would certainly depend on your individual work environment.  If you work for a narcotics trafficking organization, then yes, they’re perfectly fine.  If you work anywhere else, then no.

Question:  Is there a real difference between: they’re, their and there?  Most of my reading is in Tweet form, where they are used interchangeably.

Answer:  Excellent question.  Yes, there is a significant difference.  They’re, their and there are what are known as homophones.  Homophones are words that are pronounced similarly (or even identically) when spoken, but might have wildly different meanings and uses, and are often (but not always) spelled differently.  While this is a natural occurrence in the evolution of language, it nonetheless is the source of many hilarious misunderstandings involving the term “seaman.”

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Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that good jobs are hard to find and the competition is stiffer than ever. However, to say that the methods used by companies and potential employees to find one another have changed a tad in the last ten years or so would be a gross understatement. The birth and evolution of social media have shattered the antiquated process of carefully crafting a résumé on a typewriter (with a bottle of Liquid Paper in hand, of course) and then pounding the pavement to hand-deliver it to as many companies as possible. With all facets of the job/employee hunt shifting to the interwebs, does the old-school, paper résumé still hold any relevance in today’s world?

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2014 World Cup soccer ball with social media logosThat’s it, folks. Germany took the Cup. Sorry to spoil it for anyone who didn’t follow the 2014 FIFA World Cup and somehow missed every news outlet on the Interwebs.

So now what? We all pack up and go home, right? That’s certainly what most of the estimated 3.7 million World Cup tourists who invaded Brazil for four weeks are doing, and they’re likely happy about it. Custo Brazil has led to, I’m sure, more than one tourist’s rainy day fund getting completely drained.

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Phew. It feels good to get that off my chest.

I feel I’m bit of a fraud. I’m a writer and a wordsmith; I was raised to love words and the complex emotions, ideas, and concepts that they can convey. And yet, I believe I am an active participant in a trend that is contributing to the destruction of not just the English language, but written language in general. What is this scourge in which I am a willing (if guilty) participant? It’s the cutest scourge EVAR! Emojis.

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Under normal circumstances, bounciness is a good thing. I mean, obviously no one wants a basketball that doesn’t bounce, and a non-bouncy inflatable jumping castle is just lame. One place you don’t want bouncing, though, is your website. A site’s bounce rate—that is, the percentage of visitors who pop over to your site and right back out again without exploring past the landing page– directly impacts your search engine rankings. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to reduce your bounce rate… and one of them is high-quality writing.

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140624 - Blog - 5 powerful copy tipsSo you’ve decided your company or client needs outside help with content creation: what now?  Knowing you need help and bringing in the Pros (see what we did there?) are excellent steps, but do you know what defines high-quality outsourced content?  Here are a few important qualities to look for when seeking outsourced content creation and professional writing for your company or one of your web design clients.  Content with these qualities will keep your clients happy and customers clicking.

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17 Jun 2014

The Relationship between Copy and Design

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140617 - Blog - Copy & DesignMany web designers finish an entire project before remembering that they need a copywriter to fill in all those nifty little design elements, while most writers never even see the destination site their copy will grace. Although clearly complementary, for some reason these two disciplines insist upon existing in totally separate bubbles. In reality, though, copy and design are symbiotic, and need to be treated as such.

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I will admit it – I am completely disinterested in reading anything that isn’t salacious, violent, incendiary or focused on weight loss.  Frankly, I think all digital content should be dedicated to serial killer reporting and bariatric surgery success stories – even commercial financing blogs could surely incorporate violent offender mug shot slideshows in a tasteful manner.

Nevertheless, I am completely aware that most digital marketing consultants would shudder at the thought of embracing my revolutionary innovations into their content development strategies and will only implement more socially palatable marketing solutions.  But I will suggest, for the sake of my own enjoyment as well as the general readerships’, that you make your content braver.

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When the online realm is your workspace, you’re always chasing after some idea of “cool.” The constantly shifting Internet landscape means fads, ideas, slang, and even Fortune 500 companies flash hot for a brief moment and then burn out just as quickly.

As professional writers making the online realm our office space, we think a lot about what defines cool. But we also think a lot about words themselves — their definitions, what makes one more

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27 May 2014

86 Reasons Numbers Matter in Titles

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Disclaimer: I’m not actually listing 86 reasons for anything in this article. I am, however, going to talk about a bizarrely niche area of psychological study: what makes headlines tick. A quick glance at a search engine result for… well, practically anything at all reveals that the vast majority of headlines have numbers in them.

From firsthand experience, I can say that any time I’m generating topics for clients, I’m always thinking of how to come up with 3 More Reasons Why Catchy Titles Are Essential or 4 Ways to Hook Readers with Headlines. That’s what everyone wants, because we’re all told that’s what really sells. Are formulaic headlines really that essential to your blog posts’ success?

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