I’m so excited to introduce you to this lady! I stumbled across her blog Kate Sammon not too long ago and just fell in love with her writing. So, I invited her to guest post so she can share her tips for adding personality into our writing.
If there was a choice between a perfectly crafted, spelling free, grammatically perfect piece of writing, and a piece of writing written with soul, passion and a ton of personality, I’d pick the later every single time.
There are so many tools out there now which are apparently helping us to improve our writing. But unfortunately, I fear that they are turning the written word into some kind of robotically produced product. Less tools, more connection + creativity. So, I’ll shut up now, introduce Kate and then let's get into the core of the post.
Kate Sammon is from the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. She is a sometimes writer, sometimes performer, and constant cubicle dweller. She currently lives in Seattle where she is basking in the Pacific Northwest’s natural wonders.
She writes because she thinks storytelling is a crucial unifying mechanism for humanity. Kate writes a regular advice column on her blog, along with other timely and/or random posts. She is also writing this post in the third person right now.
7 Ways To Add Personality Into Your Writing
No one wants to read canned content. If you’re looking to make your content accessible and relatable, put some personality in it. Preferably your personality. It makes the experience of reading AND writing more enjoyable. From word choice to self-awareness, there are multiple ways to go about bringing authenticity and color to your work.
In the list below, I map out how to do just that.
1) Write How You Speak
Years ago, back when AOL Instant Messenger was the most exciting and liberating way for teens to communicate, I spent way too much of my time on there chatting with cute boys and friends.
One night, after a long conversation with my friend Joe, he said, “Sammon, I like talking to you on here because your messages sound the same as when you’re talking to me in person.” I was flattered. No one had ever complimented my instant messaging skills before (or since, for that matter). Back then, it came naturally, as a way to clearly communicate; now I make sure to write that way. When I don’t do that, when I try to jazz it up too much or try to sound like someone else, my stuff falls flat. Every. Time.
If you want to tell me how good the pizza you ate last night tasted, tell me as if I’m sitting across the room from you. Don’t tell me it made your taste buds dance if you’d never say that in person. If you’d tell me that the crust was the perfect combo of crunch and chew, then write that! If it made for a great hangover breakfast the next morning, write that too. Make like you’re having a conversation with me. When we write like that, we sound more relatable and we get our point across more effectively.
2) Don’t Try Too Hard
Growing up, when I’d come home and complain about a teacher’s pet or a manipulative queen bee at school, my mom would always say, “Oh, she’s just a Try Too Hard!” My fiancé and I have adopted this in our own conversations, but we’ve shortened it to ‘TTH’.
Don’t be a TTH, and especially don’t be a TTH in your writing. Don’t go into a piece sure of the tone you’re going to have. Let the tone evolve as the piece gets rolling. This is a mistake I’ve made plenty of times; I’ll go into a piece trying to sound like a foul-mouthed brassy broad when in reality, my point is more effectively made with subtle humor and sarcasm.
Let the tone find you and then nurture it from that point on.
3) Do Your Research
This might seem like the most obvious advice I could give, but it’s always worth repeating. A real, secure knowledge about your topic is a gift to your process.
Once you have all the facts straight, you’re free - free to write on top the foundation of facts, free to write like yourself.
4) The Thesaurus is Your Best Friend
I know I said you need to write like you talk, but every so often you need the *perfect* word, and sometimes it’s not at the top of your mind. That’s when the thesaurus comes in.
Before I go any further, I need to make something clear: do NOT be a TTH with the thesaurus. Don’t use it for every other word. Use this tool when you’re really trying to come in with a gut punch, or trying to eloquently express where you’re coming from.
A varied vocabulary is something every writer needs in their tool box, and it also serves to set your work apart. Play around with different words, find the ones that serve the sentence the best and make the most sense. That’s where the art of writing lives.
5) Brain Dump
A few years back, I took a writing workshop in which instructor told us about ‘brain dumping’. (That’s a nice visual, huh?) It’s essentially free-writing, but I liked the idea of dumping all your thoughts about a given topic onto a page.
That’s how I like to start a lot of my pieces. I find that while there’s a lot of unnecessary stuff there when I’m done, there’s also some good, meaty stuff that doesn’t come out when I do stop-and-go writing. We’re more honest when we spent five to ten minutes writing without stopping.
Dump it out and see what kind of gems you find. They’re in there.
6) Get an Accountability Buddy
Find someone to read your stuff who really a) knows you AND b) knows good content. I’m lucky enough to live with a writer, but another one of my good friends has had editing experience in the past. I run all my stuff by both of them.
Just recently, I spent too little time on a piece about the importance of living in a city. It had the trappings of click bait and as soon as my ‘editor’ read it, he called me out on it: “This sounds like something that would be on a sign sold at Target.” And you know, he was right. It was crap. I felt it when I was writing it. When you have someone who knows you and your voice well, it’s hard to get inauthentic stuff past them.
7) Be Yourself
I’m going to end this by channeling that poster that hung on the wall in your 6th-grade classroom. You know, the one that said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken!” You can’t accurately convey personality in your writing if you’re being a fake.
I don’t know how to appropriately guide you towards a greater sense of self-awareness in this blog post, but I can say that if you are self-aware enough to know yourself, that should come through in your content.
There are a lot of trends with online content right now, certain types of generic voices. Avoid them at all costs.
The more genuine and original your content seems, the more credible it is.
As an SEO who has brought many a domain name in the past, the .com shortage has me somewhat concerned about the future of small businesses on the web. If Google can’t even buy the domain of it’s parent company, Alphabet.com, because BMW owns it then what hope is left for the rest of us?
But maybe we are looking at this all wrong? Maybe the shortage opens up an opportunity in the space of semantic domain names.
Today we have a guest post from James Stevens CEO of Names.Of.London who will shed some light on this topic for small business owners.
7 Things You Need to Know about Semantic Domain Names
1 ...What are they?
They are referred to by various terms including “spanning the dot”, “semantic domain names”, “readable domain names” or “spoken domain names” - but whatever you call them, they have one thing in common, they are domain names made of natural language, and they look poised to become big earners for the new-GTLD registry operators.
These new style of domain names are made possible by the fact that a large number of the new top-level-domains are real words, like dot-CLUB, dot-MARKET or dot-SALE. This is one of their major unique selling points. Where old top-level-domains all look like geeky computer code, many of the new ones have a much more familiar and human characteristic.
Recently Rightside issued a list of its top premium domain sales, and there was one noticeable thing a lot had in common. Taking together the two words, either side of the dot, made a natural language phrase.
So it was hardly surprising that Rightside’s No.1 price went to video.games – not only is this clearly a great name, but also such a common and ubiquitous phrase.
2 ... People like them
How do we know people like them? ... because people are already using them - despite the fact few have even been told they exist.
A pioneer in this field, UK start-up Names.of.London, sell human readable phrases that work in any browser, under the brand phrases.for.sale. This includes ones such as kings.of.football, pride.of.london and all.for.one - primarily to be used for redirecting people to specific product content. Names.of.London record around 11,000 uses a week of their phrases, despite the fact most are yet to receive any kind of promotion.
As we can see from the Google Analytics, most of the use is coming from mobile devices.
The most obvious explanation for their popularity is because they reflect real human language - they are familiar. This means website names can reflect the sort of words & phrases people actually use in everyday speech.
With the exception of Kim Dotcom, who changed his last name to “Dotcom” in homage to the stock market bubble that made him a millionaire, most people do not use the phrase “dot-COM” in everyday language (apart from when discussing domain names).
With the emphasis on dot-COM endings, and short prefixes, the range of reasonable choices for website names seems to be shrinking to the point it can be hard to work out how to pronounce some of them. Yopa, Emoov & Tepilo is a selection of the leading online real-estate agents in the UK.
At times it feels like we’ve been dragged back to the 1980s and the terrible days of MS-DOS where filenames could only be up to 8 characters, uppercase letters and numbers only. We were all so relieved when Windows came along and we could name our files pretty much anything we wanted – and then actually find them again.
3 ... They are easier for people
Through their use of natural language they are easier to read, remember and tell your friends about – and possibly most important, to say into your phone.
With voice search, and voice input, rising as the communication of choice for a new generation of mobile users, the need to have website names that can be easily spoken into a phone becomes increasingly important.
Even if you are not using voice input, with predicted typing and dictionary assisted keyboards, website names made of real words are always going to be easier to enter.
4 ... They act as a call-to-action
Short familiar phrases, that link directly to the relevant content, have the effect of acting like a call-to-action button on a poster, TV ad, Radio ad, billboard or leaflet.
The vital importance of a call-to-action in online content is well known and widely documented, but all too often the same care is not taken with a call-to-action in offline advertising.
Posters that simply quote the company’s main website can leave users struggling to find information on the product or event that sparked their interest, and ones that quote a phone number, that leaves people on hold for hours, are hardly going to give a good return on their investment.
5 ... They (may/can/do) boost SEO
When you match a domain name to a search term, there is an SEO boost.
How great that boost is can be open to discussion, but there have been a number of studies that have demonstrated a clear boost. Even if that boost is only 1%, if it’s what puts you ahead of your competition, or if it’s what moves your search entry from the second screen to the first, the value could not be over estimated.
coffee.club is one of the biggest success cases so far for a new TLD. The website was able to climb to the front page of Google US for searches of “ coffee club”, which is very uncommon for a new website.
Names.of.London have seen domain names go top-10 on Google in both the US & UK within 24 hours of registration, well before there is any relevant content – but where the search term and the domain name are an exact match.
While “hacienda pony club” is almost certainly one of the web’s more marginal searches, to reach top-10 ranking within 24 hours, with zero relevant content, is a considerable achievement.
6 ... They can match your existing branding
With such a wide choice of new top-level-domains, it can be possible to find a familiar natural language phrase that matches your existing company name, slogan or strapline - meaning you can now have a simple familiar phrase people can type into their phones or browsers that will take them directly to your content-rich online experience.
If you can’t find one to match your existing branding, the wide choices available means finding one that will match your requirements shouldn’t hard.
Imaginative, creative or amusing phrases, that people can enter directly into their phone or browser, can really engage your audience and help boost your advertising ROI.
7 ... They are directly clickable on social media
Being completely valid domain names, just like any other dot-COM or country domain name, social media platform, like Twitter, automatically recognises them and make them clickable through to your site.
This means they can not only take people out of the Twitter ecosystem and onto your site, but they can also be used as a natural part of what you have to say.
Hashtags a great for starting, or joining in with, a conversation, but they can easily be hijacked by those with ulterior motives and they trap users in Twitter.
If your aim is to stimulate sales, you need to get people out to where they can buy - which usually means onto your site.
This a republished post, the original is here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-things-you-need-know-spoken-readable-semantic-domain-james-stevens
Written by Cheryl A Clarke Chief Happiness Officer & Content Marketing Freelancer @ Ginger Marketing (unless stated otherwise)
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