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Getting Started with Online Marketing- Part 2

Posted by Write Way Writing on January 20, 2009 at 1:09 PM Comments comments (0)

So here's the second part to my first blog on Online Marketing.


Rule #3: Start Small. Once you find out what the online world is saying about your business you will have a good idea on how to start your online marketing plan.



So if your customers are saying stuff like, I love this product I just can't figure out how to put it together?? you might think about adding a chat feature to your site (inexpensive) or create your own pod cast featuring one of your product engineers explaining how to work your fabulous wizo widget.



Or let?s say your product is software or cosmetics and is heavily dependent upon user input, then you might create a space for collaboration through a wiki .


A wiki is computer software that allows users to easily edit, create, and link web pages. Never experienced it? Check out wikipedia  the most famous of all wikis and play around.



Or let?s say you want to get the word out on new products and development, sales, special discounts, new menu whatever to your loyal following.



Blogs, web articles, e-newsletters, RSS feeds etc., all have their purpose in online marketing. See which offers the BEST proposition for you and start with those.



Rule #4 Talk More. Rule #2 has you listening but you also need to talk. Ask a lot of questions about your customers both the ones who take your bait and the ones who run away like a fish avoiding a hook.

  • How did they find you? What was their online buying experience like?
  • Do they find your website useful?
  • Why? Why not?

Notice I didn't say ask THEM.  Have you ever taken a survey? Did you tell the truth? My mom always says it?s not what people say it?s what they do that reveals the truth. So?online marketing takes lots of research. Not only do you need to discover who your customers are but how they behave during the buying process. The latter is crucial to your success. You can hire research firm to help you in this or you can DIY. For you DIYers? take a gander at Howard Kaplan?s webticle in grokdotcom about creating personas to map customer online behavior. It?s something you can do tomorrow and it could help your online ROI.



Rule #5 Make IT it. It goes without saying that online marketing requires an IT addition. Many small firms outsource their IT web hosting, SEO, graphic design. But IT has to have a seat at the table if you?re making a big push for online marketing. You don't want to sabotage a great viral campaign by having a website crash after the first 600 visitors.

That's not easy when IT and marketing are usually diabolically opposed to one another. Still the pay off is grand.

One study cites Netflix as a brilliant blender of IT and marketing. This collaboration led to a company making more than $600 million annually.  



Getting Started with Online Marketing- Part 1

Posted by Write Way Writing on November 13, 2007 at 7:34 PM Comments comments (0)

By Ovetta Sampson

You've built your web site. You've got an e-mail list. You've probably even thrown up a blog. And your teen-age daughter is a "friend," on your MySpace page. But like thousands of business folks out there you are clueless about online marketing. You can't make heads of "The Long Tail," and you aren't at Web 1.0 let alone 2.0. You?re stuck. You don?t know if online marketing is for you because you don't know:


  • How it works


  • How to support it


  • Whether it's worth your the time, energy and money


  • Or what to do


While only you can answer the above questions here's some advice you might want to consider when you're deciding how much of your marketing plan should go digital. Online lists are king so here's my top five. Next week we'll give you five more. 

I'm not guaranteeing all these will work for you but using them or even being aware of them will make sure you're not creating a cyber cycle when it comes to your online marketing efforts.


Rule # 1 It?s the same just different. Cost. Inexperience. Ignorance. Fear. All keep small businesses from launching full-body into online marketing. Most have websites but don?t use them correctly. Others have blogs and have no idea if they?re making money. You can have an ROI for your online marketing if you remember one thing: Think of online marketing as an extension, not disruption, of your offline marketing plans.

In a way online marketing can be more exact than say traditional marketing such as television ads because you can trace the introduction of the product through to the transaction of the sale online. With traditional media it can get a little tricky tracking who saw your television ad and whether that made them purchase your fancy, schmancy gizmo.

Build in measurable goals to your online marketing efforts. And make sure you have an analytical tool in place to chart their progress. Metrics and analytics are the solid foundations of any good marketing plan and so it is for online marketing efforts. Google  offers free web analytic tools. Start there.

Rule #2: Listen In: The ease and immediacy of the web has eliminated the barriers separating you, your customers and your potential customers. Technocrati currently tracks more than 108 million blogs worldwide. That's a lot of customers talking. So before you go creating the latest blog, SEO'd website or what not keep this in mind online marketing is not about how you see yourself. It's about how customers see you and/or your industry. So LISTEN IN! Here are some ways to listen in online:


§         Google, yourself! Me being narcissistic I do this all the time. But googling yourself, is the online equivalent of asking a friend, Do I look fat in this dress?? It allows you an unfiltered look at what folks online are saying about you, your product and your industry.


§         Go to Technocrati and see if people are already talking about you. Put a megaphone up to the blogasphere and determine what kind of online rep your company does have. If many big companies had done this and reacted to what they heard they might have avoided some crippling press. Don't believe me? Check out this wonderful article from Search Marketing Gurus about some large companies that flubbed on the online marketing strategy because they didn?t listen to their customers on the web.


§         Wear your customers' shoes. Their online shoes at least. See how customers are using the web to find you and/or your industry. Do search analysis: examining popular keyword or search phrases. You can do this on your own or pay someone. I like webconfs.com SEO tool kit. It?s pregnant with free info and tools you can use. If you're a DIY this might be a good place to start. Please leave a donation there if you do. I'm a big advocate of free online and anyone offering gratis stuff needs to be compensated.

Well this is the beginning of the end of fear. Because this online marketing thing is so scary. I'll save the rest for another entry. In the meantime, enjoy. And as always we here at writewaywriting.com can help you strategize and execute your online marketing efforts. Just e-mail or fill out our get started survey today!


More to Come! Stay Tuned!

Making the Most Out of Social Networking Technology

Posted by Write Way Writing on October 12, 2007 at 4:22 PM Comments comments (0)

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It's day two of my immersion in the technology world and I'm feeling less like an immigrant and more like a jaded citizen. Gone are my trepidation about the ferocity of the social networking technology juggernaut. After listening to speaker, after speaker discuss the benefits of blogs, widgets, wikis, onlinie social communities and their power, I'm convinced that the story is the same gift wrapped in a tech package.

I'm convinced that this new world of "user-generated content," engaged consumers, connected customers are just an extension of the American experience that spawned Sears to create the first catalogue business that offered anything you wanted delivered to your doorstep and the opening of the first supermarket that made it possible for you to buy everything you needed for your dinner in one place.

But I have been persuaded and perhaps I was already thinking this - that the biggest change in this so-called revolution is occuring within the halls of business and not in the ether of the Internet. More to come!


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Is Social Technology Marketing Our Brave New World?

Posted by Write Way Writing on October 11, 2007 at 10:39 PM Comments comments (0)

Recently, I checked out Huxley's "Brave New World." I was using the book as research and inspiration for my biological fiction book dealing with stem cell research. I remember reading the book in high school. Or maybe it was college. Or maybe I never read it and it was just one of those books that seeped into my intellectual consciousness as a novel I should read but never got around to it. Anyway, I remember that Huxley's 1930s novel was famous because it was frighteningly prophetic. He basically predicted invitro-fertilization, test-tube babies and the like.

The book was eerie in its examination of man's behavior in the future. Using technological advances to replace natural procreation with calculated creation. The necessary culture paradigm shift that led to the deliberate delineation between elites the Alphas and the not so good Betas and so on.

Huxley's tale of our progress and his examination of what our future selves termed regress - the story of the savages found in the desert of the Western United States - was a condemnation of man's inability to do good with technology. It seemed the book looked upon man as an irresponsible child gifted with unimaginable miracles who squandered them on frivilous objects like marbles when we could have opted for world peace.

In our quest to eliminate pain and have only happiness we lost what it meant to be human. People mistakenly categorize Huxley's book as an indictment on science, however I think it's more an indictment on man's rush to judgement on the use of whatever shiny new toy that science or technology can provide.

And strange as the analogy may seem I feel that way now as I sit typing my blog about my experience at the Forrester Research Consumer Forum 2007: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies.

The conference to be sure is expansive. Every big company you can name from Dell, to Playboy, to QVC to Microsoft and every innovative media company in between have converged on the Hilton Hotel in Chicago today to swap knowledge about the latest shiny new marketing ploy - I mean toy.

The shared knowledge is immense. People have opined about using blogs, widgets, wikis, forums, and mash-ups to engage your customer base, increase your brand value, and, ultimately, turn a profit. My notes alone could fill a small how-to manual on engaging your customer base to inflate your bottomline - at least showing examples of how other companies did it and giving tips on how to apply it to your own.

But I can't help thinking when I hear people say, "Your customers are revolting...they're more active and engaged." "You can't control the content, no longer is it one speaking to many..." "You need to go where your customers are..." as if this is all new or revolutionary talk, that there's seems to be a missing link here.

People are looking at this umbrella revolution known as Social Networking Technology Marketing as some Holy Grail that will engage your customer base, help you improve your product and increase sales. But really, has the world gained anything by harnessing the social power of this online medium? Have you?

To be sure marketing your product in today's world isn't the same as marketing it in the 1950s or even 1980s for that matter. You can say your product is the best widget in the world but Aunt Jane can say it isn't and can instantly tell 5,000 of her MySpace friends.

You would think this would make companies a little nervous about creating crap products. That the old adage garbage in garbage out holds ever true in this world. No matter how good you are at engaging your customers, connecting your customers to each other, garnering buzz or whatever if the proof isn't in the pudding your efforts will have failed. UNLESS - you are bound by the tyranny of the vocal minority.

Some of the presenters gave examples of pioneers in this so-called revoluntion. They talked about the peanut campaign to save the CBS show Jericho. This was highlighted as a good example of the power of social networking to topple companies and beat back mishaps. Long story short CBS got a good following for the show Jericho. Then it cancelled it. An online talk show host got people to send peanuts to CBS headquarters. In all they sent more than 20 tons of nuts spending more than $50,000 to  buy and send them. CBS said OK we here ya'. Stop sending us nuts. We'll put the show back on the air.

But if you've ever seen Jericho you'd know that the show is good but it ain't no Firefly. (If I have to explain then you're too far gone from hipness).

So while Social Networking strategies played a big part in saving Jericho how much did the collective "we" benefit? I mean it's not like sending nuts compares with Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle."

Ok maybe that's not fair but it would seem that all this focus on engaging customers, building relationships, garnering connections with consumers and the public fueled by online socialization should engineer something better than the average American annual salary spent on nuts.

It would seem the result of this revolution in consumer activism has garnered - well not much. It has lead companies to shape products, campaigns and maybe even their values to the needs of the squeaky wheel.

To be sure many of the company strategies using this new technology have been good for society. Many point to the "Dove" Campaign for Real Beauty as an excellent example of how to harness the power of social networking technology to engage your customer base while getting a little brand building and profit increase on the side. 

But for every Dove there are plenty of Jericho's. Campaigns that appeal to the active proprietors of online socialization - the vocal minority.

Consider: 84 percent of the activity on MySpace - downloads, page views, uploads whatever - is done by 20 percent of the registered users. This according to the forum I heard today on "How Consumers Use Social Network Sites."

Assuming that's correct if you build your marketing strategy around this group of active, but limited, online users than are you truly reaching your objectives. If you advertise on MySpace are you truly getting to a demographic that is broad enough to be of some use? If you change your product based upon online feedback garnered through SN strategies - blogs, forums, etc., - are you really making your product better for the greater good or just for that small vocal minority?

Which is why I loved what Manish Mehta, Dell's VP of Global Online had to say. He talked about how engaging your consumers online should have more to do with how you want to serve them than how you want to sell them. That the ROI is in the relationship. With such a underlying purpose you can't help but get a better product and create better world.

I'm still trying to process all that I've learned. I know there are some minor transformations going on here. I'm not quite convinced about the revolution. And I hold out hope that if we can effect transformative behavior by harnessing the power of online socialization that we do it in a way that advances humanity and not just ends up in profit for people who sell nuts. Though I was encouraged to see that the nutty Jericho fans have started a fundraiser for a Kansas town devestated by tornadoes since the fictional television show is based in Kansas. The easy tools of social networking technology allowed them to do that and to raise a lot more than one person could. So my jury is still out.

Writing for Audience - Hello Is Anyone Out There?

Posted by Write Way Writing on August 28, 2007 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The killing occured daily. The pain was excruiating. Each time my editor, who shall remain nameless to protect him, deleted a word I actually winced. I closed my eyes and felt the cut of knife against skin. It was my hubris dying tiny little deaths. He was a gruff newspaper editor who had been in the business more than 20 years.

"I've got shoes older than you..." he would scream. It seemed he did that every time he had to edit one of my stories.

I was a young reporter working at a daily newspaper in the Rocky Mountains. I wasn't exactly green, having been a reporter for about three years. I had honed my chops on the police beat, wrote entertainment stories and was now ready to take on the big, bad gorilla of complicated daily metro stories.

These were the stories that ended up on the front page of a newspaper - prime real estate. Think of the Hamptons versus whatever suburb you live now. If you landed a front page story you were aces because you actually had to fight to get there. Editors had meetings twice a day to fight over which one of their reporter's stories would land on A1. It was fascinating to watch. And I salivated, waiting for my opportunity to shine. Only the best stories got on the front. And only the best writers wrote the best stories.

But "Gruffy," stood in my way. Balding, with a graying beard and a peculiar red hue all over his face, "Gruffy," was the A1 gatekeeper. As the Metro Editor, nothing got on the front page without going through him. 

"Clear your throat on your own time not on mine," he was saying proceeding to delete the first paragraph of my prized story. I had a bad habit of liking my words. I wrote as if I was using my stories and copy as a personal ode to myself.

I'd throw in great prose, effusive and just as ineffective. I would try every literary trick in the book - metaphors, alliteration, long antedotal ledes -that didn't bear up to their names. I would write as if writing for myself.

Yet "Gruffy," quickly let me know - writing isn't personal. At it's essence and, at its best, writing is so public it hurts. It's public because it touches others in different ways, but universally. And that's what "Gruffy," taught me in a masochistic sort of way.

Each time, he deleted pet words of mine. You know those words. The ones you love. The ones that crop up in your prose repeatedly. For me they're words like "makeshift," "bucolic," "rampant." Some people understand their meaning. Others do not. But I loved the way they sound so they peppered my language. But though they did wonders for me they were useless if my reader didn't get what I was saying through them.

"What's your favorite sentence in this story?" "Gruffy" is asking me. I proudly point to an alliteration that I cleverly devised. He zoomed the cursor to the prized prose and diminished it into blankness. "Get rid of it," he said. "It doesn't need to be there."

Which brings us to our spicy tip of today: No matter how often I sit down to write a story I always think the same thought: Who is my audience? For whom am I writing?

It doesn't matter if you're writing an independent research project for graduate school or the latest widget marketing brochure audience comes before narcissism. Even if you're writing an autobiography you are selective in the items you choose, preferring to pick tidbits and stories that connect with others. 

I know that this may seem sacriligious in this "all about me," modernity in which we live. But you need to choose your words - not for yourself - but for the delight of your reader. Does that mean boring? No. In fact some of the best fiction and non-fiction is clever and accessible.

Think it can't be done? Then you've never read Jon Franklin. One of the best creative non-fiction story tellers of our day, this Pulitzer Prize winner writes earth-moving prose with the simplest of words. Read his work and you'll discover greatness does come in the ordinary. In next week's blog, I'll talk about the night I went to dinner with the famed writer. Talk about an eye-opening experience.

But since I can't upload Jon's work (that darn copyright thing) I will bring the debate down a few pegs from his greatest to my fairly competent writing to show you what I mean. Writing for your audience means writing that's simple, clear, concise and even extraordinary.

After years of suffering under "Gruffy," I was actually starting to absorb lessons - in between tearful bouts grieving over my lost prose. I learned. Prose doesn't move people. Good writing does. Drop the pomp and circumstance and really connect with your audience and you've got the beginning of good writing.

In one of my last stories for "Gruffy," I was shocked and awed that he returned it back to me without narely a scratch. Well, a few scratches, but none life-threatening to my writing. It was a story about a day care center that worked exclusively with severely mentally and physically disabled children. My first thought in doing this story is "Why in the world would anybody do that?" It's a thankless job, in a thankless and low-paying profession.

It's a question that I knew would connect with my audience. Mothers. Fathers. Children. Low-income workers. Suburban, white picket fencers - everyone thinks their job is thankless at times. But the women who worked at Zach's Place were at the top of the thankless class. Read it here. The story contains little of me and all of my audience. It was written to teach, to educate, to delight and to question. The response was tremendous. And, of course, it ended up on A1.

The next day I saw "Gruffy," reading the A1 story. And, call me nuts, but I thought I saw him smile. Or maybe that was just the sunlight?



Writing Creatively - No really

Posted by Write Way Writing on August 13, 2007 at 6:07 PM Comments comments (0)

Shakespeare is one of my favorite writers. Or "Shake eh spear eh," as my high school freshman English teacher Mrs. Kelley used to call him. That diction helped us to spell the Bard's name correctly.

Mrs. Kelly was an Irish-woman with a thick cockney accent and a hatred of any form of the word "to be." If we wrote a verb using a conjugation of "to be," she gave us an "F."

That made for some interesting essays from my freshman honors English class. Imagine having to write an entire essay without using "is, are, were, was, have...." It  was a nightmare.

I complained about Mrs. Kelley's fetish for real verbs then. But today, I revere her. Her insistence on writing with variety, her abhorence of trite phrasing and lazy wordsmithing, instilled in me at a tender age that writing using the same words that everyone else uses is not writing at all but settling for mediocrity.

Which brings me back to my buddy Shakespeare. It's been proven, or at least said, that Shakespeare invented more than 1,000 words. Some he changed from nouns to verbs. Others he added prefixes and suffixes. And still others came right out of his bald little head - they had never been used before he wrote them.

I like Shakespeare not only because he was a good storyteller, but because he gave creative writing a new threshold. He burst through the ceiling of mediocrity to discover fresh, new ways to tell timeless tales. Shakespeare's plays were not original plots - it's well known that he "stole," a lot of his plot points from other writers. But it wasn't the storylines that made me like him. It was the way he used words.

Shakespeare could have had Hamlet say, "Gee, I don't know? Should I kill myself or or not. Or should I murder the guy who killed my daddy? Either way it's scary. " Instead he wrote:

"To be or not to be. That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them..."

So he takes something that's universally felt if not universally subscribed to - indecision about life's value - and he elevates it. With beautiful words like "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune..."

When I spoke at the annual conference of the Evangelical Press Association (EPA) this year I talked about writing creatively. I used Shakespeare as an example. Not because he's a famous writer but because he embodies what good writers do to be creative. They learn the basic rules to writing. Then they put their own unique twist upon them.

Writing creatively isn't about reading the latest book on writing and adapting a formula. Writing creatively is about using the God-given uniqueness that is you to create stories that have a universal appeal.

For Shakespeare, the conventional words like majesty and milk didn't work for him. So he created "majestic" and "skim milk." And the conventional turns of phrases, even in Old English, just didn't work for him either.

I'm famous for saying that there hasn't been a truly great work of fiction published after the 1960s. I'm sure many people would take umbridge with that assesstment. No matter. When I speak of great works I speak of writers that break barriers, that venture into new territory, not merely the ones that take us to a place we've never been before. I'm not speaking of the sensationalists but the true boundary breakers who instead of separating us from one another bring us together with universal works that soar with passionate words.

I challenged my EPA audience that they could do what Shakespeare did. They couldn't be him but they could push outside the prison that is modern writing today just as he did in 17th century England. And you can too? But how?

1. Get rid of "to be." Well, not entirely. But really any conjugated "to be," verb sucks the life right out of your prose. That's because using the verb and its cousins usually puts you in passive-voice land. And passive-voice land is boring - makes readers sleep! You need action words to move your fiction. And "to be," isn't action. Unless you say "To be or not to be..." But hey you're not Shakespeare so drop the "to be's...."

2. Dump your "lazy words". These are the words you will find in most newspapers everyday. Unprecedented. Crystal clear. Underprivileged. Childliike innocence. Beyond cliches these are words we use because we're too lazy to think of other ways to say what we want to say. OK in small doses, "lazy words," can quickly kill your prose, giving your reading a path to slow death.

3. When in doubt be specific. Have you ever looked at a sunset? What does it really look like? Don't describe it as you've read about it, wake up in the morning at dawn and look at it. Take a picture. Then use your vast experience and vocabulary to describe it. A sunset in the Rocky Mountains is like a cherry piein your face - sweet and satisfying and just a little tangy when the light bursts above the mountain tops and hits you right between the eyes.

Most writing suffers from generalization. I guarantee the more specific you get in your writing the better writer you will be. You can take that to the bank. I'm not talking about details ad nauseam. Specificity in writing means targeted details that pull the reader in a direction you want them to go.

4. Try new words. Again I go back to Mrs. Kelley. She used to say to us eager adolescents - "How do we read?" And we'd shout back, "With a pencil in our hand." That's because we were to underline any word or phrase that we liked or didn't understand and ruminate upon them. I learned a lot of words because of that. And knowing a lot of words helped to diversify my vocabulary and of course my writing. So read with a pencil and mark words you find fascinating and use them!

There's a reason why we're still reading Shakespeare's play "Hamlet," 400 years after he wrote it and I can't remember the title of one of John Grisham's novels from five years ago. No offense to Grisham, but I've seen and read it all before. Don't settle for mediocrity in your writing. Don't just be one of the crowd. Strive for originality and creativity. And see where your writing goes!

Flooding in Bangladesh

Posted by Write Way Writing on August 10, 2007 at 11:22 AM Comments comments (0)

Since I used to be a news reporter I'm an avid consumer of just about every medium that's out there - print, online, video and radio. So I'm taking a little break from writing about writing and I'm writing about the news.

Today's News: Flooding in South Asia:

More than 2,000 people have been killed because of flooding in Bangladesh, India and other surrounding regions. Read more.

Ovetta's Trip to Bangladesh (Photos by Chuck Bigger)

I went to Bangladesh in Jan. 2004. It was my first time in South Asia and let me tell you I was in for a shock.

The people were so gracious. Smiling always, even though they were melted together like sticks of gum on a hot day. Bangladesh is the size of Iowa but more than 115 million people live there. Sensory overload doesn't begin to describe it. It's like every inch of your presence is invaded by people. The road, the sidewalk, the hallways, the restaurants, the air you breathe and the steps you take - everywhere people. Mostly men. Hardly few women out in public.

I asked a state official who I met on the plane from London to Dhaka what was the country's most important resource. He said, "People." And laughed.

And other time when I crossed one of the country's huge rivers - two-thirds of the country is surrounded by water - I asked the ferry driver what his country's greatest commodity was. He said, "If we had a war, and the only thing you needed for war was water, rice and people, we'd win." And he gave me a big grin. Here's the ferry driver:

And here's what the river we crossed looked like:

News Brings Back Memories

So when I heard about the flooding in Bangladesh and India my heart broke. I had walked that same sandy earth that people were now fleeing. I had crossed those very rivers so calm and placid then that are now raging and flooding, destroying what little shelter rural Bangladeshi's have.

On my trip for Compassion International, I visited one of those coastal, sandy areas called Bajua. The community is located right off a large river in the Khulna District, in southern Bangladesh. 

The poverty in Bajua is so thick you could smell it. Cut off from the major city of Dhaka by the river, the only way you could get to Bajua was by boat. Here's me traveling on a wooden boat that I think was a century old:

Bajua is surrounded by vegatation but is truly barren. There are no real roads. No hospitals. The homes are made out of clay mud fashioned right out of the earth. Some homes have just thin strips of bamboo for walls. Still, the village was beautiful. Lush and green with grass as tall as trees. And the children - oh the children. They were lovely.

So sweet and loving. Look at how they grasp my hand. Very few children in Bajua receive daily attention from adults. So when I went there it was like being mobbed by loved-starved fans. The little girl holding my hand with the two yellow balls in her hair was abandoned by her mother. Left for dead she was taken in by one of the other families on the little island. Most of these families make around 73 cents a day from fishing. So to have one family take in another family's child is huge. She's holding a coloring book and some paints given to her. She wants to be a famous artist. I have no doubt she will be.

So as I read the news today about the flooding my thoughts trickle back to Bajua. How I laughed and played games with fishermen's children. How I felt the true feeling of unconditional love in brief handshakes. How I came to see Jesus in the eyes of loving children and it makes my heart melt for them. I pray that they were spared. Their lives so pregnant with hardship. I pray that the flood waters passed them by. If you'd like to help you can sponsor a child from Bangladesh through Compassion. It's just $32 a month and it will make a world of difference.

Writing - How Google dulled my passion

Posted by Write Way Writing on August 10, 2007 at 6:07 AM Comments comments (0)

Writing. My favorite. I love writing. I love words. I've always loved words. I love the way they're spelled. I love the way they sound. I even love, albeit begrudgingly, the rules that govern them. I thought there would never be anything to interrupt my love affair with the English language. Even when I became a beat cop reporter and I had to write several stories in a day.

Writing four stories a day on dog catching, cat disappearances and missing laundry didn't even put a damper on my salacious need to write. Soon I found a pattern, a rhythm. I could organize a story within five minutes. As I'd return to my desk, notebook in hand I was already putting the pieces of the word puzzle together. Do I go inverted pyramid or antedotal lede? Is my nutgraph already set? Double check that spelling. And boom - a completely coherent piece of nonfiction ready for publishing in a matter of minutes not hours.

Writing long feature stories didn't deter me either. Even struggling for months on end, sitting through countless interviews, trying to organize mounds of notes and painfully staring at a blank computer screen as I tried to sum up my protagonist's life in a 1,000-word feature piece (pure torture) did not sway me from my first love.

Writing. So wonderful so beautiful. But it wasn't until I began writing for the web that I started to feel icky about words. Not writing them. But the way I had to write them for the web. You see the web was a rude awakening.

Writing on the web signaled an end to word frolic. No longer could I play with sentences like I wanted. No longer could I devise cute wordsmithing to please all my senses. No longer could I revel in the beauty that emits from just writing a few sentences. Nope. Thanks to a bunch of geeks with html coding and fancy algorithms I've got to write to please creepy crawling spiders instead of writing to please the ear.

Writing for the web meant changing my writing style to fit a search engine's desperate need to be valued. Notice how many times I wrote the word "writing." It's not by accident. It's by design. See writing is a word that's searched for online more than 70,000 times a month. It's a high-value keyword. And to get picked up by search engines you have to use it often and in key places. Meta tagging. Keyword phrasing. Descriptors.

Writing for the web brings communication down to the lowest common demnominator - the keyword phrasing that we all commonly use. It doesn't allow for the awkward, the avant garde, the different to thrive. Instead it rewards the common, the everyday, the ordinary. The anyone writer.

Writing for the web would leave Shakespeare on the sidelines. I mean where does an author who created new words because common ones were just too inadequate, fit in with search engine optimization? How can you be creative on this new egalitarian pathway known as the World Wide Web?

Writing for the web doesn't necessarily have to usher in solemnity. You don't have to stop having fun with words. You just have to be more deliberate in your communication, less carefree. There are ways you can write to optimize your site for web readers and search engines but still remain interesting and creative.

If you want to learn more about how to be creative while pleasing those four-legged, hairy spiders then e-mail [email protected] today!

Writing. It's making a come back! Spiders beware!


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