What Hemingway Can Teach You About Web Writing

I am inspired to take Robert’s advice and re-read Hemingway and Faulkner. We can learn a lot from the greats. After all, their work has survived the test of time.

101 Books

William Faulkner once said, “[Hemingway] has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”

Hemingway responded: “Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

No surprise here if you’ve read my review of The Sound And The Fury, but I stand in Hemingway’s camp on this one. To me, the best writing is clear, simple, and to the point.

That’s why I think anyone who writes web copy, whether it’s a blog, an article, and especially any form of marketing content, should look long and hard at Hemingway’s writing style.

As a guy who spends all day writing for the web, I’ve probably been subconsciously using Hemingway’s style for years. With that, here’s what I think Hemingway can teach you about writing for the internets.

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Your Website is your Storefront Display

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Friends working togetherYour website is your storefront display. Customers regardless of how they find out about your business, usually go to your website to get more information about your business. So be sure that your online presence really reflects your business.

Just like how we decide whether we will go into a brick and mortar business based on the display, a website provides potential customers with glimpse of what you have on offer. So it should reflect your company. Are you conservative, young and modern, corporate or a funky on-trend business?

This is your “brand” and all other communications such as blogs, articles, Facebook page and print material should have the same message. It should be created based on your target market, the people who buy your products or services. The message should be consistent and clear at all times, a message that reflects the brand that you are building.

Creating the content to build a brand is challenging. It starts with a strategy that includes an editorial calendar that outlines where, when and how the content will be distributed. Then continues with detailed analytics and a systematic review of the kind of articles and placements bring the most traffic to the website. This approach builds on what works and brings the visitors to your online storefront.

Good content in now even more important to get listed on the search engines. Creating content to support an integrated web presence requires more than minutes per day. It takes commitment and dedication.

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An effective communications strategy includes the platforms that are used by the target market.

Keep your Business Local

Many small businesses have yet to take advantage of marketing resources at their fingertips. Some think that marketing equals big bucks but the increasing popularity of Online Marketing techniques and Social Media mean effective campaigns can be implemented on a small budget. Using these channels any business can build and develop a following that can be converted into market share.

The best marketing strategies combine offline and online activities to direct prospects to a website and a physical location. The most important component of the strategy is defining and understanding the target market. Creating messages that engage that audience will encourage prospects to make contact and to buy.

Ultimately, marketing is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves. Each customer interaction is an opportunity to cement this relationship.

The key to building a successful business is using all…

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Farewell, Neil Armstrong

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Farewell, Neil Armstrong.

I had to pause this week when I heard about the passing of Neil Armstrong. I was a young girl when he made his historic landing on the moon and I have not taken the status quo as an absolute ever since.

So much has changed since then. The Internet, the way we communicate with each other and our place in the world is very different now that it was then.

Thank you, Mr. Armstrong for inspiring us.

The Recovery Plan from The Scary No Activity Experiment!

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Objective: Prove that a web strategy works.

Method: Stop posts to the blog, publish no articles and make no updates to the website for four weeks.

Observation: Traffic to the site was reduced by sixty percent.

Conclusion: Inbound strategy was driving traffic to the website.

The recovery plan is in place and it has taken over six weeks to recover the level of traffic. The blog posting schedule is back in place and articles are being written and submitted.

Every time someone challenges the effectiveness of an online communications strategy, the simple way to silence doubters is to conduct your own Scary Experiment and see what happens. This is a dramatic way to prove that a strategy works, it takes a lot of courage but it works.

Keep your Business Local

I recently had the opportunity to visit several rural communities in Eastern Ontario – wonderful, vibrant places, with unique charm. They are however facing many challenges as jobs and people move away. A whole way of life is in danger and it is  happening in regions across the country, in places such as rural Newfoundland, Ontario and even Alberta.

Some people embrace this movement, many do not. For the people that want to stop this drain, the challenge is how. How can we create enough jobs, entertainment, housing, etc. and create a lifestyle that will support the rural communities.

A recurring theme that comes up in conversation time and time again is the fact that as residents commute further and further away for jobs and local businesses now find themselves competing with the  larger centers. They have to work harder to retain current customers and expand their customer base to…

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Inbound Marketing Strategies

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I recently attended a webinar on Inbound Marketing that gave the attendees lots of information on what it is and how to do it. They suggested how often blogs should be updated, e-books written, Hubs created, Facebook and Twitter accounts maintained. There was just one key piece left out. Where does one get all the web content required to support this type of strategy?

As with all other Marketing Strategies, web content should be an extension of and support a company’s brand. It starts with a communications strategy that defines the target audience, the key messages and schedules tied to corporate objectives. All communications should engage the viewer, drive traffic to the company website and ultimately result in sales.

Creating content to support an integrated web presence requires more than minutes per day. It takes commitment and dedication.

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There is something to be said about the feel of a good book.

CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD

Regular readers of this blog and those who’ve kindly subjected themselves to my books will know that I’m a huge Jurassic Park fan. I love the book, I love the movie and even though I’m a total coward who wouldn’t get on a rollercoaster if I was told there’d be a million dollars waiting for me at the other end of it, I braved Universal Studios Jurassic Park River Ride just to see the JP view from the lazy boat ride bit that came before the 80 foot drop.

The first edition jacket design of Jurassic Park.

I love Jurassic Park because it’s one of the first adult books I ever read and I can clearly remember reading it—or trying to; it was 1993 and I was only 11 —in the little caravan my parents used to have installed by the sea. It’s not Pulitzer Prize-winning literature or anything…

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The Scary No Activity Experiment!

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One of my best clients and I recently took a walk on the “dark side”. We wanted to see if the scheduled blogging and articles strategy was really responsible for driving traffic to their website. So we stopped doing updates for a month.

Well the results speak for themselves. Traffic was down 25%. Of course we are now working hard to get it back to where it should be.

Our mission is to use all the tools at our disposal to create meaningful, original content that enable our clients to manage their social network presence. Stay tuned in, we have just started.

The Moving Finger

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The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all they Tears wash out a Word of it.

Omar Khayyam

The life of content posted online is very, very, very long. It lives on long after it has served a useful purpose. When this content is repeated over different business and social networks, it can make or break your business or personal brand. All content that is associated with your brand should be part of a well defined social media strategy.

There is also nothing worse than having multiple unused social media profiles. Many people fall into this trap because they are too busy to post content on a consistent basis. Posts should be regular, engaging and offer value.