Following a checklist when writing articles, blog posts, and other content

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I’m the type of writer who usually likes to write first and figure out whether I’ve hit all my requirements later. If I missed a keyword or some key points, I’ll work them in somewhere in my rewrite. It’s partially a symptom of needing to get writing projects done quickly when deadlines are looming.

Having an outline and a writing plan are great for being organized before you write. You want to measure twice and cut once, so to speak. A writing checklist can help on the back end as well. Once your writing is done, you can go through your checklist to make sure you’ve done everything you need to do before sending it to the client or publishing it for yourself.

Here’s a checklist of questions you should ask yourself before you consider the writing done. It will work for most types of content. Your perfect checklist may differ, but you can use this one to get you started.

Checklist when reviewing your article, blog post or other copy / content

  • Does the content fulfill the promise of the headline?
  • Is the content:
    • Interesting?
    • Easy to read?
    • Believable?
    • Persuasive?
    • Specific?
    • Concise?
    • Relevant to the reader?
  • Does the content flow smoothly?
  • Does the content include a call to action?

Do you need help with writing your articles, blog posts, and other content? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Getting readers to like you, short marketing tips, and a guide on marketing basics

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Here are a few interesting articles and blog posts I’ve read this past week.

Getting readers to like you right away

Kayleigh Moore wrote a great piece on getting readers to like you within the first 10 seconds of reading your content. She suggests:

  1. Make them laugh. Most people enjoy humorous writing, so being funny can get readers to like you. But make sure it’s your sense of humour. Consider the following ways to inject humour into your writing:
    • Quote other funny people.
    • Make fun of yourself – a little.
    • Aim for dry humour.
  2. Share your flaws. Be honest and vulnerable about the mistakes you’ve made, the challenges you’ve faced, some of your minor fears, etc. It’s not the place to unload your deep issues – unless that’s what you’re trying to achieve.
  3. Spotlight your personal achievements. It’s OK to share some wins you’ve made through hard work and determination. Don’t go around blowing your horn all the time, but no need to be shy when something good happens when you’ve earned it.
  4. Embrace your quirks. Be yourself. We’re all weird in some way. Share the things you like or do or think that are unique to you. People will identify with those things that they do or share with you as well.

Short marketing tips

Josh Spector provides 40 one-sentence marketing tips to help you think differently about how you spread your message. Here are a few of my favourite ones:

  • Marketing is storytelling and the most interesting stories are true.
  • To learn how to capture an audience’s attention, notice how someone captures yours.
  • If you master marketing principles, you don’t need to master marketing tactics because you’ll be able to invent your own.
  • Word of mouth marketing always happens — it’s just not always the words you want.
  • Don’t market on channels you don’t use yourself because you won’t understand why people use them.

Marketing 101

Jamie Wilde from Morning Brew published a guide called Marketing for Beginners: The Best Articles and Expert Resources. It includes insightful case studies, videos, articles, and more that people in the industry use to make them better professionals. It covers the basics (what is marketing?), the concept of brand, basics of consumer behaviour, ethical questions, data in marketing, and more.


Need help with writing marketing copy? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

How to arrange and conduct a successful interview

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Since I write magazine articles and blog posts, I occasionally have to do interviews with business owners and experts. I’m an introvert, so I’m happy to get away with email interviews. But, sometimes it’s better to do a phone or Zoom interview, or there’s no choice but to actually talk to the person.

There are a lot of great books, websites, blogs, etc. with information on conducting interviews. Here are some strategies I’ve followed for conducting a successful interview.

  1. When reaching out, state your name, referral contact, and the reason for the interview.
    • Explain that you won’t take too much of their time.
    • Flatter the interviewee with sincere praise.
    • Explain the importance of doing the interview.
    • Leverage your time with whatever authority you have.
  2. Let the interviewee select the best date and time – give them some options that would work for you as well.
  3. Arrange the interview with a lot of lead time.
  4. Be prepared! Do your homework to set questions.
  5. Be on time.
  6. Write down key facts – record the interview at the same time so you can go over it later.
  7. Establish rapport with the interviewee.
    • Ask questions about them, put them at ease.
    • Show interest in their answers.
  8. Record the names of the subjects, and make sure to get correct spelling and facts.
  9. Show appreciation for their time – thank them and send them a copy of the article or blog post when done.

Additional tips: Eight ways to get more out of interviews


I hope that helps you get more out of doing interviews. If you need help with your writing, let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

How to write an essay well, summarize books, and create a messaging framework

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Here are a few interesting articles and blog posts I’ve read this past week:

How to write an essay well

Julian Shapiro put together a guide on how to write an essay well. It covers how to identify what to write about, generate insights on your topic, and how to rewrite for clarity, flow, and intrigue. He has a great process on putting together an introduction, which includes:

  • Choosing the right topic to write about
  • Writing a compelling introduction that makes you want to read further
  • Combatting readers’ potential skepticism
  • Getting feedback from others on the introduction

The ultimate guide to summarizing books

Tiago Forte shares the ultimate guide to summarizing books. It includes a system to figure out what to highlight, what you should not highlight, and how to summarize it in a format that will benefit you over time. He also lists the benefits of summarizing books, which include:

  1. It allows you to more deeply absorb the book’s lessons
  2. It creates building blocks for thinking and creating your own work
  3. It employs imitation to improve your writing
  4. It can help you to build an audience of email subscribers (if you want)
  5. It can connect you with influential people
  6. It can help to improve your visibility and credibility in online communities

Creating a messaging framework

Ashish Jain of MarketingProfs discusses creating a messaging framework for your business, explaining what it is, why you need one, and how to build it. A messaging framework “is a structured representation of what your company and products stand for. ” With a messaging framework:

  • Your customers will know who you are and how you differ from the competition
  • Sales will be able to explain your company’s differentiating factors.
  • Marketing will have a basis for developing future content resources.
  • All parts of the organization will be aligned on your company’s purpose and mission

Need help with writing great content, or editing your existing content? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Quick tips on writing press releases

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If you’re a content marketing writer, or working in public relations, then you’ve probably written a few press releases in your day. They are very effective for informing people about what is happening within a company, as well as promoting causes, highlighting interesting events, and more.

For those who don’t know, the purpose of a press release is to grab the attention of the reader, highlight news, create brand awareness, and create publicity. It’s essentially free marketing. However, to be effective, the press release should follow standard guidelines (a simple search will help you there), and be legitimately interesting or newsworthy.

To write a great press release, follow these tips (Hubspot also has a good template and additional info):

  • Focus on the clarity and accuracy of your content – no lies or misstatements allowed
  • Include the names, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. of sources
  • Include a release date or FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE at the top of your press release
  • Leave space between the release date and your headline
  • Summarize your story in the headline – keep it to two lines if you can
  • The lead sentence / paragraph should contain 5WH information
  • Include the name of the person to credit for the information
  • Put all the additional facts in the body of the story
  • Keep your press release to one page if possible, and two pages max
  • Include the contact information for the person who can provide more information at the end of the press release
  • Add photo caption separately
  • Keep it simple and newsy

The end of the press release can include a backgrounder, with a brief overview of your company. You can also include a fact sheet with detailed information that won’t fit in the press release.


Need help with writing press releases or other content marketing? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Strategies for communicating more clearly

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Here are a few interesting articles and blog posts I’ve read this past week.

The Feynman Technique

Kayleigh Moore discussed Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feyman’s step-by-step method of how to communicate simply and clearly for maximum comprehension.

  1. Pick and study a topic.
  2. Explain the topic to someone like a child who is unfamiliar with the topic (and at their level of understanding). Use simple language.
  3. Identify any gaps in your understanding.
  4. Return to the literature to understand better.

40 one-sentence communication tips

Josh Spector provides a collection of concepts to help you write, speak, and express your ideas clearly. Some of my favourites include:

  • You can’t explain something you don’t understand and you don’t understand something you can’t explain.
  • Use the words your audience uses.
  • The main character in any story is the person you tell it to.
  • Stating an opinion as a fact doesn’t make it one.
  • Every word is a choice and every choice has a consequence.

You only need 200 words

Tim Denning from The Writing Cooperative wrote a piece called “Your Writing Can Go Viral Regularly with Only 200 Words.” There is a lot of great advice here on blogging, including “Make the first sentence or the last sentence of your post the headline.”


Do you have any suggestions on communicating more clearly, or great blog posts and articles you’ve read? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Writing tips from Neil Gaiman

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Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors. I’ve read almost everything he’s written, including The Sandman comics, The View from the Cheap Seats, American Gods, Coraline, Smoke and Mirrors, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He just speaks to me

I recently came across writing tips from his Master Class, which I have yet to take, but it’s definitely on my list. It’s definitely worth a share. Although these tips are designed for fiction writers, I believe that you can apply some of the tips for writing articles, blog posts, and other works of non-fiction.

Writing tips

  • Use lies (stories) to communicate truths.
  • Acknowledge your growth areas – identify your skill gaps.
  • Start a compost heap (what will help you write future stories) – influences are everywhere.
  • Reveal a little too much of yourself.
  • Pay attention to the strangeness of humanity.
  • Don’t tell readers how to feel – create emotion without dictating emotion.
  • Get the bad stories out of your pen – write continuously.
  • Stumble upon your voice – experiment with your writing.
  • Create mutually exclusive desires – put characters at odds
  • Give your characters funny hats – everyone should be uniquely defined.
  • Ask yourself, “What is this story about?”
  • Separate feedback from advice – feedback is about what you did poorly, advice tells you how to fix it.
  • Do just enough research to write your stories.

Who are your favourite writers, and what have you learned from them? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Opportunities for freelance writers, reimagine your existing content, getting specific, and more

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Here are a few interesting articles and blog posts I’ve read this past week:


Do you read some great newsletters? Share them with me – contact@davidgargaro.

David

How to write a great conclusion to your article or blog post

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A lot has been written about the importance of writing strong titles and headlines, as well as a powerful introduction, to attract people to read your article or blog post. Of course, it’s important to start strong to pull the reader into your content. But what about the conclusion?

It’s important to write a satisfying conclusion for your article or blog post. And I don’t mean the call to action. The conclusion wraps up your point and answers the question “So what?” for the reader. It’s pretty disappointing to read a great book or watch a great TV show that ends poorly – it’s almost like the rest of what you read or watched didn’t matter.

Nicholas Labonté from Craft Your Content wrote a great blog post on three steps to writing a satisfying conclusion. In a nutshell, to write a great conclusion:

  • Restate the thesis of your article or blog post to back up your main premise.
  • Synthesize (don’t summarize) your main points by breaking them down to explain the why behind them.
  • Open the reader to the possibilities that can extend from your thesis and main points, and broadens their horizons.

You can practice writing conclusions by paraphrasing what you’ve written in your article or blog post. This involves rewriting passages using different words to make the meaning clearer to your reader. It can involve providing more details to clarify the original meaning of the content. The paraphrased content should still contain the original thoughts and ideas, and make any “hidden” or “suppressed” meanings more explicit. 


Do you need help with writing a conclusion to your article or blog post? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

How to prevent yourself from getting fatigued when working from home

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I’ve been working from a home office for most of my career. I’m used to it, and don’t get tired from sitting for long periods of time. I take breaks throughout the day, although not as often as I should.

Many people are working from home for the first time, and fatigue is becoming a major issue. Some time ago, I read one of Dale Carnegie’s books, where he shared six ways to prevent fatigue. They’re quite useful, so I’m sharing the tips with you here.

  1. Rest before you get tired. Experts say you should drink water before you get thirsty if you’re outside in a very hot area. By the time you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. The same can be said for resting before you get tired. Take a break to prevent yourself from getting too tired and making mistakes in your work.
  2. Learn how to relax when working. This could involve listening to calming music, taking play breaks with your pets or children, pausing to play a game or take a short walk – whatever works best for you.
  3. Protect your health and appearance by relaxing at home. You’re already home, so this should be pretty simple. Watch for signs of illness and follow steps to stay healthy. You can do what you need to stay healthy when you’re home already. If you have to go to the office, then use your sick days when you need them.
  4. Develop strong work habits.
    • Clear your desk of all papers except for the immediate work or problem at hand.
    • Do things in descending order of importance.
    • Solve a problem right away if you have the facts to make a decision.
    • Organize, deputize, and supervise – you don’t have to do all the work yourself.
  5. Put enthusiasm into your work. It’s important to like what you do. Do your work with positive energy. Enjoy what you do as much as you can, and find moments of pleasure in your work. Be proud of doing great work.
  6. Don’t worry about insomnia. Worry is more damaging than not being able to sleep. Find ways to release stress and worry in your life, and you will be able to sleep.

Read anything by Dale Carnegie – he’s an amazing writer. And make sure to get a good night’s sleep. If you have any suggestions on preventing work fatigue, let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David