You are your web site

Earlier this week I was reviewing the web site of a company that helps the children and spouses of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

These people, as I know from personal experience, are ready to explode from the stress that builds up from trying to prevent Dad from wandering into the ravine or Mom from destroying the bathroom.

When my mother’s degenerative brain disease was getting out of control, I didn’t want to read clinical descriptions of services. I didn’t want to look at happy snaps that reminded me of what life used to be like.

I needed to find someone, right now, who would make sure my chain-smoking mother didn’t burn down the house when my father took a well-needed break on the bike trails. I needed someone strong enough to stand up to her rage. And that was just the beginning.

Talking to the people who run this service was so much better than reading their web site. They were passionate and compassionate, expert and experienced. They understood me and my mother and father and the millions like us. I wish I’d known them when my mother got sick.

Unfortunately, like so many other small business owners, they thought they could write their own web content. After all, they are experts in their field. They have excelled at university, written countless essays and been published in professional journals.

Unfortunately, organizations like these don’t think they can afford to hire a writer, a good one anyways. So what should they do?

Write like they talk. That’s my top piece of advice and the inspiration for the e-book that I’ll be publishing very soon.

Like the Alzheimer’s helpers, most people, especially those with businesses and causes, are quite articulate and emotional when they talk about what they do.

The trouble comes when they treat writing as something utterly divorced from talking, worse still when they forget that web sites are about starting conversations.

Too bad. People like them don’t make money by exploiting the desire to look cool or young or whatever. As anyone who has fallen down the caregiver rabbit hole can tell you, they fill a profound need.

Their site wasn’t all bad, but it needs to be much better so more despairing caregivers can be reassured that there’s quality help available.

So let’s hope they can learn how to write like they talk. Or make enough money to pay someone.

After all, their web site is their introduction to the people who so desperately need them. They are their web site.

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Just write

This post has been revised and moved to http://www.stickycommunication.ca/2010/09/just-write/.

Who are you writing for?

What are your ideal reader’s pains and problems, passions and pastimes?

Does your ideal reader make decisions mainly with the heart, mind or both?

Never underestimate how smart your readers are.

Coming soon, the e-book Write like you talk—only better

Write like you talk

Write as I to you.

Apply what you enjoy in conversation to your writing.

Ask questions. Get excited. Interact.

More coming soon in the interactive e-book Write like you talk—only better. 3 steps to turn good talkers into great writers.

Let’s take a writing road trip

Writing is like a road trip, with maps and guides, the thrill of the open road, plus skill and confidence that improve with experience.

Revising is like taking the return trip again, even better because of your 20/20 hindsight.

More coming soon in the interactive e-book Write like you talk—only better. 3 steps to turn good talkers into great writers.

May the force be with you

I was talking to a marketing friend Steve Semple about the benefits for people who buy the book I’m working on: All the writing they do at work will become easier and more effective. Simple and straightforward.

But what about the unexpected benefits? he asked.

Huh?

Steve talked about Star Wars, where Luke Skywalker gains the obvious benefits of rescuing the princess and defeating the villain.

The unexpected benefit, Steve pointed out, was learning about the “force,” the energy that binds the galaxy and bestows supernatural powers on those who harness it.

That got me thinking. What is the force for people who write? I don’t mean just the stars who create masterpieces, but writers like me who are good enough to earn a living or the people who write well enough to travel our cyber galaxy, the world wide web.

What are the supernatural powers we gain from harnessing the force?

The force lets me meet new people and build relationships outside of my neighbourhood, family, friends and other groups who dwell in my nook of the earth. It lets me express and spread thoughts and expertise for other people too.

Sometimes the force gives me supernatural powers to help people understand and respect each other. Occasionally I master the force so well I can reveal truths and touch hearts.

I guess the unexpected benefit I’d like to give people through this blog or my book is to introduce them to the force of writing. Very few of us will climb to artistic heights. But better writing can help us all understand each other a little better. That is a Jedi force.

However, we must be aware that, just like in Stars Wars, the force can be used for both good, as in bringing people together or raising awareness and funds for good causes, or bad, as in child pornography, jihadism, fraud and the other evils of the world wide web.

Fortunately, most of us harness the force of writing for good.

So tell me, fellow writers and world wide web travelers, how you do harness the force and what good does that do?

Help your readers remember–and groceries on forgotten lists

This post has moved to http://www.stickycommunication.ca/2010/07/what-was-i-supposed-to-get-write-to-help-readers-remember/