The Business of Rebranding in 2018; Is it Time?


Picture of company employees mapping out the process of their business re-branding plans.
Mapping Out our Business Rebranding; The Competitive Edge

 

As the title of this article implies, the question of if and when to rebrand out business entity looms large. Do you love your current business brand? Is your business flourishing, evolving, growing consistently? Today, I want to share with you ways in which we need to focus on our business entity and how rebranding can play a significant role in the sustained health of our business in 2018 and beyond.

Targeted Market Engagement

Over time, you may begin to notice subtle, or not-so-subtle changes in the level of your targeted market’s engagement in your business. Perhaps they are becoming less interested in what you have to offer, disengaged and tending to shop around more, connect in a more responsive way to your competitors. Is it all about price point, quality, less responsive to changing needs? It can be any of these issues and more.

Sometimes our customer’s perceptions of our company may change and at times not in a positive light. You should always anticipate changes in your competitor market and brand orientation as well. Let’s face it, if we and our competitors have done our homework, we know that we must always be acutely mindful of what we and our competitors are offering right out of the gate as a new startup and how we (and they) evolve over time.

Brand orientation and change can be hugely challenging and we need to refocus consistently on a changing, evolving marketplace and the model of our competitor branding. Do you have an edge in your industry, a unique product or service line that no competitor is offering? This is perhaps your most significant question as a business entity now and moving forward.

Is your business model and what it has to offer still fresh and offering great and essential customer solutions. That value cannot be understated. Our marketplace is ever-changing as are our potential and existing targeted market dynamics. Are we merely maintaining status quo with lackluster or are we consistently moving forward to meet changing customer needs head on? If we’re not doing so, it is more than likely time to shake things up and bear new fruit for a uniquely diverse range of products and/or services.

Is it time for a change, time to rebrand your business model, how it functions and distinguishes as unique and vital in an ever-changing marketplace? Is it time to infuse a new vision moving forward through a carefully conceived, designed and orchestrated design and rebuild process? These are heady questions and pose a considerable challenge for many companies. The anxiety of the very thought of ‘change’, by our very humanistic nature, imposes both positive and negative anticipation.

If your business is lagging, faltering, scaling in a downward direction with revenue expectations consistently diminishing, then the only option is to implement change. If your current approach to your business and how you reach and engage your targeted market is just not working, it’s time for a change, time to look seriously at rebranding.

I share the very same anxieties that any business owner or manager will face in the process of change; potential disconnect with our current clientele, an uneducated leap forward that may cause more harm than good. What if our new look and feel is a jumbled mess that our targeted market simply cannot relate to? Still, the even bigger and more important question should be: “what will happen to our business if we just lay back and wait and see”? That is a dangerous position to take for any business entity that is struggling and on the verge of failing. Complacency is another nail in the coffin.

Your fears about changing your business brand, its very platform, are real yet all you need do is look to the many successful corporate entities today who have gone through the same over the life of their brand, sometimes a multiple of times, who, with carefully researched analysis and planning, have overcome their adversities to move forward in a thriving revenue position, growing consistently through their perseverance.

Oftentimes, brand changes do not necessarily have to be major in scope. Sometimes it can simply entail the presentation of your product or service in a more pleasing, attractive manner, shedding competitive light on the enjoyment and benefits of what you have to ofter. We live in a solutions-oriented marketplace today where people want information fast and to the point that packs a commanding, engaging and compelling message that tells the consumer that you and your company, product or service solutions are the right fit for what they want and need.

Stay current with consumer needs. Recognize new consumer demographics with careful market research on how best to reach your best potential targeted market. Make it as easy as possible for them to find you through a highly visible website in terms of search engine visibility. Know current search engine optimization techniques (SEO) in keeping with ongoing algorithmic changes implemented by the major search engines, especially Google. You cannot wing it when it comes to website and marketing visibility.

Dispelling Product or Service Negatives

When marketing your product or services, make sure that you are acutely aware of and sensitive to any negative perceptions in the marketplace about specific aspects of what you, and your industry, offer. Such consumer sensitivities can have a significant impact on your consumer experience. Are their environmental concerns, ethical questions of product development, aesthetic appearance questions or public perception issues with a consumer’s association with your brand? Such issues can quickly become the difference between an excited, devoted customer to one who quickly looks to competitors for a more palatable solution for their needs.

Product or Services Diversification

This issue is two-sided and dimensional in nature. Trending thoughts on what a business entity offers have evolved over time. Not that long ago, the popular consensus was that we, as business enterprises, should be highly focused on one specific brand and related services. The whole thought process on that perspective was that if we were to offer too many types of our product and/or services lines, the consumer may question our level of actual expertise when addressing their problems or needs.

More recently, the growing consensus has been the lean toward a more expanded dimension of product lines and service levels, thusly satisfying a larger market, a one-stop-shop as it were, much as the benefits of the large shopping mall have been touted vs, the local corner store or strip mall/plaza.

As time-consuming as staying current with current market trends can be, market research on an ongoing basis is essential for a healthy, sustained and growing market revenue share. For the sole proprietor, extending one’s self to that higher level of market awareness is never easy. Many small business entrepreneurs often struggle along on their own devices in the hopes of somehow nailing it ad-hoc while their competitors, who are able to invest in the human resources necessary, sail ahead with a positive growth experience simply through being better informed of what the marketplace wants and demands.

We cannot be the little corner store barbershop that operates with a solitary human being providing the same old, same old to a fixed number of devoted customers and thrive perpetually; that is simply not realistic thinking in today’s marketplace.

Be Innovative, Take a Stand, And Stand Out!

If ever there was a time to grasp new and ever-evolving dynamics in the marketplace and business community, it is NOW! Some of the largest corporate conglomerates of today found out, sometimes the hard way, that we need to sit up straight and pay attention to a diverse and ever-changing consumer and marketplace or be left sitting at the curb with nowhere to go.

The name of the game today is to offer diversification and distinctively unique, exceptional products and services that our competitors simply have not or cannot offer to our huge and mutual consumers in waiting. It’s not just about satisfying a need or want; it goes way beyond that finite spectrum of consumer focus. The marketplace of today leaps at their purchases with emotional response and they are looking for what quickly grabs their attention, fits their solution-centric focus in the moment and turns their emotional crank up a notch every single time!

Standing out with products and/or services that are unique, brilliant in their conception, design, and delivery are essential factors for many in the marketplace today. Have we recognized and adjusted to the consumer’s own changing lifestyle dynamics and not only what they need in the current day but whether that product or service will satisfy their evolving solution-hungry wants and needs moving forward? It’s just not good enough anymore to simply run a supply and demand product line or service that won’t address an already changing marketplace need.

What we have to offer at any given time and place must be significant and diverse, standout and standalone in many respects. What we offer needs to speak to the people, and the more connected our business offerings are to significant community issues, the more closely connected the consumer will be. “Hey, this company has a conscience. They are making a statement and willing to stand out as an exception. I like this company’s values and their overall focus on their customers, now and moving forward. This is the kind of brand I can identify with in a positive way. They know us, understand us, want to reflect that awareness through what they offer us.” Just look at huge corporates like the McDonald’s food chain. Public outcry over what was or was not healthy and socially conscious became an enormous issue for them to address head-on or face serious repercussions from a wavering consumer at large; even the mighty fall…and fall hard.

Functionality, Relatability & Engagement

So much has been said over the past few years in terms of the consumer’s perception of a business entity; how we present ourselves, our vision and focus, our very product by design and customer delivery. Consumers of today are acutely aware of their own perspective on life and its living and they want to associate and do business with companies who share their perspective.

Be ever-conscious of the quickly changing demographics of the consumer and their product needs and objectives. Don’t distract them with a huge volume of web data that they really could care less about nor have any time pouring over. In your web content be concise, honest and straight to the point. Tell them what you have to offer, how it addresses their specific problems, needs and wants, and move them quickly to the means to connect with you whether in digital contact format or via phone, email or text. Don’t waste their time with superfluous fluff that is useless collateral and does not drive them quickly to where they want to go; their destination is the shortest and most direct route and through a clean, concise overview that speaks volumes to them in few words to the conclusion that “yes, this is exactly what I want”.

Any business entity that has a business model bent on deceit or slurry marketing jargon that aims to mislead or hustle the consumer into an unclear, murky decision to purchase has no place in today’s marketplace and the savvy consumer recognizes BS in a heartbeat. People relate to what they truly believe in and care about in life, personally and professionally; anything less is not worth their time nor attention and certainly not their investment.

At the time of this writing, Lasting Impressions Editing is undergoing a degree of rebranding and that will include considerations for a somewhat modified, expanded service line. To that end, our website is currently undergoing an exciting redesign over the next few weeks so stay tuned for updates in our newsletter (have you subscribed?) as we move forward with renewed vision and focus on our core customer services! We look to the future with excitement and optimism!

May 2018 be an outstanding year for each and every one of you. My best always,

 

Don MacIver, Owner, Editor, Writer

Lasting Impressions Editing

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© Lasting Impressions Editing 2018

12 Important Steps for Self-Editing; An Author & Writer’s Checklist


ebook-e-book-ipad-tablet

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is arguably no substitute for engaging a professional editor or proofreader, however, self-editing is an essential exercise for all authors and writers. Developing skills to facilitate thorough content analysis and correction/revision is the first phase in fine-tuning a book manuscript or document before its editorial and proofreading analysis and publication or audience distribution.

With each successive round of proofreading the fewer the errors to be addressed in the final analysis. This process not only helps to reduce the degree of correction and revision by a professional editor but also lends to a refinement of writing skills of the author from a developmental and grammatical perspective.

Hiring a proofreader and/or editor is a critical stage of the pre-publication process that will help to ensure that your book manuscript is clear, concise, and as error-free as humanly possible and reads with a consistent flow and progression. After all, the primary objective for the author is to ensure that their purchasing readership has an exceptional and satisfying reading experience.

Start with an Online Spellchecker and/or Grammar Tool

There is numerous spelling and grammar analysis software on the market and MS Word even has their own built-in tool found at the very first of a series of related document ‘review’ functions across the top of the MS Word document window under the ‘Review’ tab. One click of the ‘Spelling & Grammar’ tool tab and the software will scan through the entire document, underlining spelling and grammar issues that require further review and changes as necessary. Grammarly.com is one such online tool which offers a host of resources to educate users on proper English language applications.

Apply this built-in tool before doing any proofreading and editing rounds. This will alleviate many typical issues right up front and allow you to focus your greatest attention on analyzing and revising with optimum efficiency and accuracy.

The spelling and grammar check should be considered the author/writer’s first step toward producing a quality, clean product with a professional presentation. This is important not only to the paying product purchaser but also to the publishing company whose critical mandate is to ensure a high-quality product is being distributed through the various retail outlets that will market your book. Even as a business professional distributing communications documents internally or externally for business purposes, the cleaner your content presents the better the reading audience’ perceptions will be and how they respond moving forward.

Pause Before Commencing to Proofread

There is a tendency to rush through the proofing process in order to meet personal or professional deadlines for publication or distribution of books or documents to their intended audience. Writing can be a long and exhaustive process in itself and it is easy to develop a habit of glazing over the essential proofreading and editing process.

After concluding the writing of your content, stop! Take a break by stepping away from the finished content for a number of days or even weeks. Come back to your work with fresh eyes and clear focus as the proofreading exercise is a painstaking, exacting process that you cannot afford to rush.

Proofreading and editing is a multi-round process. It cannot be executed effectively in one round of re-reading. You will be checking for typos, spelling errors, poor grammatical application, sentence composition issues, sentence fragmentation whereby words are inadvertently missed or as written from a conversational perspective that result in confusing, inconsistent idea or storyline flow.

The bigger picture to watch for carefully is the ‘developmental’ aspects of your content. Is there a consistent and fluid progression of the story or presentation of ideas throughout? Are the paragraphs consistent in length and spaced for easy readability? Are character and location details consistent throughout? Research exactly what to watch out for in the various elements of content development as the intent in this article is not to be exhaustive to that end.

Seek the Opinion of Others

Having referred to the proofreading and editing process as ‘painstaking’ and ‘exacting’ here previously, to be more precise the task of checking content for evident errors or inconsistencies goes to the checking of every single word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph individually and as they relate to prior and subsequent content as well. If storyline or thought processes are expressed in a haphazard manner, your readers will become confused and easily frustrated that the content was ill-conceived and not thoroughly evaluated before publication and distribution.

As the author of your own content development, there is a tendency to be overconfident about that content and during self-editing, it is easy to glaze over your content and miss errors or discrepancies. As such, it is a wise next step to seek the assessment of your content through the scrutiny of others who are not so closely attached to the work. Ask friends, a colleague at work, people who work as manuscript or content ‘reviewers’ or relevant online forum groups. Fellow writers will also help in this supportive role. You may wish to offer a gift incentive for reviewers’ efforts such as a free copy of the published product or other forms of reward.

Read Your Content Out Loud

This sounds like an odd suggestion yet when your content is read back out loud you will audibly detect unusual sounding sentence elements that trigger an immediate question in your mind. You will hear elements that do not make sense. You will hear awkward word choices and word duplication that need attention. Sentence structure is important. For many, hearing a voice, perhaps even their own voice, as they read content, will trigger the same reaction.

Learn in Advance Guidelines for Proper Grammar and Punctuation

Before you can sit down to a thorough and accurate proofread and edit of your content, you need to make sure you possess the knowledge base to do so. Research thoroughly online and/or take courses at a local college or other facility offering such study programs. Punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and grammar are complex disciplines. As a professional editor, I see these skill sets lacking in the textual content that I am engaged to review.

Many of the online resources are even free of charge. Grammarly.com is an effective app that can be installed to your internet toolbar and when developing content online the software does real-time analysis and colored underlining of words and sentence elements that require attention. It will provide suggestions for possible changes where the software may not be fully clear on the issue in some cases. Be sure to download and install the Grammarly app designed for your browser.

Prepare a Checklist of Common Content Issues

You know better than anyone what your strengths and weaknesses are in terms of your written English content. Maybe you tend to use incorrect word variations such as ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’, ‘then’ vs. ‘than’, ‘they’re’ or ‘their’ or ‘there’, ‘its’ or ‘it’s’; the list is lengthy. Have your prewritten list of your own typical spelling and grammatical issues at the ready and do a round of proofreading specifically checking for only those types of issues.

Avoid Editing While Writing

As an author or writer, your first priority is exceptional content for the intended reader or audience. Your first inclination may be to edit during your content writing process. That is a risky practice at best as doing so becomes very disruptive to the writing thought processes and could very well diminish the quality of your writing as a result.

Get your storyline or message ‘down on paper’ as it were, whether writing on or offline. That is your first priority. Worry about the tidy up after the entire content has been written and thoroughly examined under the microscope for the proofreading phase of the project. With online publishing today we have the advantage of being able to revise our manuscript and republication as a second or third edition but why leave ourselves hanging by attempting to achieve content writing and editing simultaneously; it just doesn’t serve to establish the best possible content.

Capitalization

Capitalization is one of the most common issues I find when proofreading for clients. As with punctuation errors, I see a predominant habit among authors/writers to ‘guess’ where punctuation and capitalization should apply. This becomes even more evident when their application of both is inconsistently applied.

The use of capitals is typically reserved for proper names of people, places or things as identifiers specific to the individual or place/thing of reference. Reference to governmental positions or bodies of jurisdiction are often confused and if in doubt the next step is to search online to verify proper term usage and capitalization.

It should also be noted here, too, that if an author or writer does not have a solid grasp of proper applications in this regard, with haphazard discrepancies frequenting content, the correction of such issues can be time-consuming which will also translate into greater client cost for the hired editor to correct.

Printing, Line Ruler and Visual Alteration Techniques

Developing differing techniques to increase your focus level and accuracy during the proofreading process will go a long way toward refining your process with greater efficiency and eliminating missed issues.

Many authors and editors alike find that the eye simply does not catch all discrepancies when viewing content on your computer monitor. Some find that printing the entire manuscript of content and physically checking and marking the content is easier with less tendency of missing repetitive issues.

Still, others will alter the font size and even change the font face type as viewed on their computer screen as a means to proof their work more closely. When you adjust such dynamics of textual content to other than what you are accustomed to applying and reading, this practice will force a greater level of close scrutiny to find discrepancies in your content.

Another favorite practice is to place a straight rule beneath each line of content as you progress down the page. In doing so, you cover content immediately below the line you are reading and thereby facilitating complete focus only on the line being read.

These techniques may, at first, result in a slower, more intense review process but will also increase efficiency and accuracy after repeated use.

Multiple Rounds of Proofing and Editing

Authors and editors alike must be aware and understand the critical importance of multiple rounds of proofreading and editing. When hiring an editor and or proofreader, it should be understood and accepted, as an established professional editorial practice industry-wide, that the editing and proofreading practices will require a multiple of rounds to do so.

Depending on the degree of proofing and or editing desired or required, it should be anticipated and agreed upon in advance by both parties to an editing services contract that three (3) to four (4) rounds of complete content review shall form the basis for acceptable services standard, and more or less rounds depending on a number of factors relating to content issues that will allow for or demand more or less review and revision.

It is suggested that the best practice before an editor or proofreader is hired is for the author/writer to provide a specified amount of representative content to the service provider, i.e. several pages or one or two chapters, as specified in advance, in order to give the editor/proofreader an advance read of the author/writer’s content to determine the extent of analysis and revision that will be required.

There should also be agreed upon flexibility written into this element of a service agreement such that any significant change in content editing requirements not anticipated or evident through the content sample provided will necessitate a greater scope of work and related cost adjustments to bring the content to the desired professional state of presentation. This situation may not occur often but should be a reasonable contingency in the event that such problematic content arises.

Consider, also, that the editing and proofreading processes are two distinctly separate exercises with a focus on different elements of the project content. Proofreading is primarily to address issues relating to typos, spelling and grammatical/punctuation errors and sentence composition concerns.

Editing, on the other hand, is a comprehensive analysis and revision of the bigger picture of content development, also known and referred to as ‘developmental editing’. Editing also examines stylistic consistency as well as a logistical reference such as character and location/geographical development, the accuracy of language, flow, readability, clarity, and a consistent progression of storyline or message delivery front to back.

Style Guide Applications

There are numerous editions of ‘style guides’ published today and found online as well. They serve to guide writers and editorial professionals for proper applications of style, usage, and grammar. Such style guides have been established in various countries around the world and reputed as the reference of choice for consistent textual content development standards. There is a multiple of style guides designed specifically for various formats of writing.

Digesting the content of such guides can be complex but more and more authors and writers are acquiring these reference guides in order to bring a professional standard with consistency to their written works. The advantages of doing so serve not only the writer/author but also, ultimately, their reading audience as well.

Neither editing nor proofreading services incorporate rewriting or entire writing (i.e. ghostwriting) services. That is not the focus of these professional hires. They are hired on the basis of content analysis and suggested revisions only.

Can I Not Just Use Editing Software? Why Hire an Editor as Well?

Clients must be aware that content analysis software currently being retailed is NOT 100% accurate in terms of textual proofreading and editing. There are numerous aspects of the complex written English language that such software is not able to fully recognize as a contextual or grammatical error. When reviewing ‘suggested changes’ highlighted by the software, it becomes clearly evident that the software is ‘unclear’ on any given number of grammatical or spelling issues it gives reference to for suggested changes and their analysis in those instances is incorrect.

As such, the client is left with difficult and often confusing decisions as to the correct content changes necessary, if any, in those instances. For that reason, authors/writers should never rely solely on spelling and grammar check software applications. It is still essential that a proofreader and or editor be engaged to undertake the final content analysis on the client’s behalf to ensure that the end result is a product that meets professional quality standards as free of error as humanly possible.

Publishing companies are also highly expectant that book manuscripts submitted for publication meet their own high standards. Their first priority is to ensure that the products they retail are high quality for the purchasing consumer. Their revenues are clearly at stake as well as the author’s income. The bottom line is that happy readers become devout, repeat customers when they can rely on great story delivery with quality finishing touches for their investment!

How to Decide Between Self-Editing and Hiring a Professional Editor


Pen on white backgroundShould You Self-Edit or Hire a Professional?

As an author or writer, a business professional, marketing or advertising expert, you have created a book manuscript, document or promotional copy that will soon be published or otherwise distributed to its targeted audience. You have a daunting task: Do you perform the proofreading and/or editing exercise independently and release your content for public consumption/purchase or do you hire a professional textual editor/proofreader to execute this phase that will bring your content to its critical and polished best presentation?

Decision Factors

That is a loaded question and not one that you should take lightly. Consider these factors very carefully when making that decision:

  • Are you publishing your content for retail purposes?
  • Who is your targeted audience and does that audience include the potential for business revenue development?
  • Is this your first of such published/distributed materials or one of many and what has your audience response been so far? Has your content been response-driven? What is the metrics of reader response indicating to date? Have your documents or published materials performed as anticipated? Did your results meet or exceed your objectives?
  • Has your audience response in terms of actions taken been measurable and as intended? If not, what will you have to do to change your audience response?

When you are creating content for a company and/or client project or for direct revenue purposes, there is a considerable amount of pressure (internal/external) for optimum results in terms of the foregoing questions, how effective your content was in stimulating audience response and to what degree that response met or exceeded expectations.

Consider what is at stake if your content is not the best it can and needs to be. What efforts in terms of time, resources and investment have gone into the project? Has your return on investment (ROI) met and exceeded your expectations?

Objectivity

First, make sure that in making a decision your perspective is an objective one. Take an honest look at your content and be completely honest about self-assessing your capabilities with respect to your writing skills and equally as important, your level of knowledge and skills to effectively analyze and revise your work as necessary to bring it to a professional polish.

Seek an Outside Opinion

Have a colleague, family member, friend or other parties take your content for a test drive. Ask for their unbiased impressions of your work without any sugar coating thrown in…a straight up assessment or review, thumbs up or thumbs down! Avoid negative results by thoroughly examining your content before taking it to the next level. Beyond the surface level of the content and its delivery, are your reviewers finding a significant number of issues that require rewriting or correction?

Editing Decision Touch Points

The following is a series of keywords or phrases which need to be considered when deciding whether to engage a textual proofreader/editor for your content. These are the skills and expertise level indicators to consider as an expandable list (not all-inclusive) of the many elements of content development and revision that I do as a professional proofreader/editor:

authors               bibliography           book manuscript editing

bookmarks             border design          caption

change                markup charts          citations

clear formatting      cohesion               column orientation

columns insertion     content development    content layout

content sequence      copyediting            copywriting

cross-reference       developmental          document comparison

drop cap              editorial role         endnote

English editing       Flesch-Kincaid Standards

fluid progression     font face              font size

footnote              formatting             grammar

gridlines             headlines              hyperlinks

hyphenation           image alt text         image insertion

indentation           insert footer          insert header

line spacing          lower case             macro

margins               mark entry             mobile content

multiple page viewing outline level          page break

page breaks           page orientation       pagination

paragraph structure   postscript             problems

proofreading          publishing             punctuation

quick parts           readability           reader engagement      

reference navigation  references            review                 

reviewing pane        revision balloons     ruler                  

section breaks        sentence structure    signature line         

solutions             source management     special indents        

spelling              split window          storyline consistency

strikethrough         style guides          styles

subheads              subscript             substantive

symbols               table of authorities  tables

tables                text align            text box insertion

text wrap             thesaurus             track change review

trim size             typos                 upper case

watermark             web layout            word count

Common Misconceptions

A writer/author/creator’s greatest fear is that their content will be changed by the editor to the extent that their storyline, intent, meaning, and objectives could be seriously altered or compromised. Avoid such issues with a proofreader or editor before any editorial project gets under way.

The editor’s contract should clearly reflect that the integrity of their client’s work will be maintained during the process without clear and advance discussion and authorization from the client otherwise. The primary objective of the editor is to clarify any evident ambiguities or inconsistencies to content copy to enhance its delivery to the reader and to effect revisions that will correct typos, spelling errors, discrepancies in grammatical correctness, punctuation and sentence composition.

The ‘polish’ that an editor puts on a document, known as ‘proofreading‘ is meant to incorporate the correction of errors in spelling, grammatical and punctuation issues. More extensive ‘editing’ of a developmental or substantive nature is an analysis of the content through which to consult with the client to alert them that there are inconsistencies in the message delivery or storyline. The editor role does not incorporate re-writing of such content elements unless there has been an advance extension to the services agreement for the editor to do so. That kind of change, which involves greater involvement by the editor, will naturally add cost to the services agreement.

Good Story or Message Composition vs. Bad

As the writer, you need to be aware that if your storyline or copy content is mediocre in its development and does not pack the punch that it must have to achieve the desired results, resolving such issues is the responsibility of the author/writer/copywriter. I am writing this article for the various types of client projects I specialize in but the premise in this regard is the same. The writer of the content must develop their own individual skills in content development and delivery in order to realize the maximum possible success that they might achieve.

You may not possess the ultimate writing skills and technique to deliver that stellar content the first time around but if you are doing due diligence to do extensive research, studies and content refinement, your content quality and how it is received by your audience should improve as you gain experience. An editor or proofreader is NOT a ghostwriter. He or she will provide content analysis and revision. Writing better, more exciting or convincing/engaging content remains the job of the author/writer/copywriter.

Do Not Take Critique Personally

Repeatedly I have heard stories or, at times, experienced first-hand, that a client has taken an editorial comment as a personal affront. As the originator of that written content, own your responsibility as the content creator. Accept their role as editor for the objective analysis that they provide for the writer during the editing process. Do not allow that assessment to become personal or confrontational. The editor/proofreader is on your side! This seems a little off track for this article but the point is that you do not want to lose perspective to the extent that it dissuades you from engaging an editor for future projects. They are indeed there for a purpose.

Self-Editing Is Important

The first step to take once your content is completed, in a draft, is to set it aside for a few days, refresh and come back to your project to undertake a self-editing process. Take your time with this process. If you tear through the proofread at a break-neck pace only for the sake of meeting your publishing submission target date, the result is missed issues that require correction. Be very cautious about establishing hard deadlines for submission. Make sure that you have adequate time for the entire proofreading and editing process to be completed. That process is as important as the writing of the content itself.

Anticipate problems with the editing and polishing phases of your project. Base that anticipation of adequate time on the length and complexity of the project itself. Refer back to previous projects as a reference point and judge accordingly. If you do engage a professional editor to undertake the final analysis and revision process, establish a timeline that they anticipate they will require to do their part and wherever possible, keep your submission date a soft deadline.

I have seen clients get terribly anxious and stressed because they did not meet their original submission date. Maintain perspective on what is more important: a deadline for submission or the best possible quality content possible. In the case of a hard and fast deadline for submission in conjunction with a collaborative project involving a multiple of contributors, make sure that your advance lead time is more than sufficient for all of these processes to be performed thoroughly.

If issues of a more extensive nature arise such as storyline inconsistency, structural or copywriting revision is required, the time to do so is often greater than the original composition. Again, the priority has to be on the content quality first.

Multiple Round Editing Process

Be aware that the professional proofreading and editing processes involve several rounds of focus on specific elements of content analysis. Typically, that process, especially where the client elects both editing and proofreading services, are three or four separate rounds for complete, front to back content analysis and revision. The process is separated out into a multiple of rounds so that numerous elements of the analysis can be more effectively and efficiently addressed rather than an exhaustive all-in-one round which could result in issues being missed.

Type of Editing Services Needed

Editing can be considerably more extensive in the process that proofreading. They are two clearly defined and separate processes. Proofreading includes checking for typos, spelling errors, grammar, punctuation and sentence composition analysis. The author/writer needs to decide their writing strengths vs. what services they engage through an editor. If the author/writer were unsure of the extent of services required, the editor would most often seek a representative sample of the content to review in advance of starting a project. This advance review will give the editor some assurance that the content before him/her is consistent with the quality of content throughout the manuscript or document. Where the editor sees more than average issues in the sample they may ask for a larger sample or assess a greater fee structure that will reasonably meet the additional work that will ensue with the project.

If the author/writer were unsure of the extent of services required, the editor would most often seek a representative sample of the content to review in advance of starting a project. This advance review will give the editor some assurance that the content before him/her is consistent with the quality of content throughout the manuscript or document. Where the editor sees more than average issues in the sample they may ask for a larger sample or assess a greater fee structure that will reasonably meet the additional work that will ensue with the project.

Selection of an editor should be one of the first things the client determines so that they are comfortable with cost and can plan accordingly. There will still be a review of that representative sample to help alleviate any concerns on the part of the editor. It is not unheard of that extraordinary issues crop up well into a manuscript or document that was not evident in the initial review. In that case, there is usually a provision in the editor’s contract for a fee adjustment if deemed necessary.

Proofreaders and editors should always address any extraordinary issues as soon as they become evident by discussing those concerns with their client. The editor should never undertake to do extra work without first having obtained advance permission from their client to proceed. In doing so, the relationship between the editor and client does not become strained or compromised.

An author or writer can always obtain more than one content sample review before deciding on whom to engage if they feel the need to do so. Obtaining a referral from a fellow author or writer can also go a long way to minimizing any issues that might arise during the course of the editing process.

Research to Find Experienced and Highly Regarded Editing Professionals

Taking the time to locate successful and highly regarded proofreading and editorial professionals will pay huge dividends in the long run. Most often people conducting a search for products or services will seek to find local professionals, failing which they will expand their search. Remember that editing professionals provide their services for clients around the globe.

Essentially all services for document proofing and editing/publishing are currently completed electronically on a laptop or desktop computer, often including client communications by email or online video calls through Skype, Google Hangouts or Facebook Video Calling. When long distance separates the editor and their client, communication by telephone is much less frequent for obvious cost control.

Take advantage of resources that are typically found featured on editorial professionals sites. Familiarize yourself with these resources as a means to enjoy direct benefit when it comes to your content development, editing, marketing and where applicable optimizing for search visibility. There are many free and paid tools for writers and editors that greatly enhance organization, accuracy, innovation, presentation, formatting and much more.

Great examples of highly informative and resourceful editing professionals include An American Editor and Louise Harnby whose sites are richly enhanced through resource and industry links. Both of these seasoned editorial experts are outstanding writers whose on-site blogs are highly informative. They are well worth a visit to advance your practical knowledge base and writing/publishing objectives. Both editors have published as have I.

Self-Editing is an Important Phase of the Project

It is a highly recommended part of the writing and publishing process that the author becomes involved in the editing phase with every publication project. Developing improvement in your proofing and editing skills is important. It will actually help your writing process as you become more aware of your content quality as you write. To a degree, it will help reduce the extent of proofing and editing required by a professional. It will not necessarily result in dramatic savings though, especially if it is your first time working together.

Even when self-editing your work, it is highly recommended that you plan to engage a proofreader/editor for the final analysis. An external, professional analysis of your work helps to alleviate the possibility of issues occurring. Your objectivity can affect how well you proof and edit because the writer tends to be over-confident about their editing capability and thoroughness when self-editing. Your process can become a glaze over because of over-confidence and close familiarity with your work. At the end of a long writing project, the writer’s eyes will be fatigued and that ‘lazy eye syndrome’ results in skipping over content and missing important issues that require correction.

There is also the level of editorial knowledge and skill to consider. In addition, focus on what your overall objective is for your project. Keep in mind, too, that the publisher will also anticipate a quality content submission, as they will not publish inferior products to the buying public. Doing so affects their revenue stream as well as your own. If you begin to receive negative reviews about content quality, consider the valuable lost time to pull the project out of retail, go through another editing process, resubmission and further publisher review before the project goes is finally approved and goes live again for public purchase.

Effective self-editing and proofreading demand that you develop advanced knowledge and skills. The English language is complex and typical elementary and secondary school studies of the English language and grammar are not at the level that is required for content development. Take the time necessary well in advance of any content distribution at a professional or publishing level, especially when self-editing is the sole or only level of editing planned for your project.

My recommendation here insofar as hiring a professional editor reflects what this industry supports wholeheartedly and not in a self-serving way. Whether you are a publishing author, content writer or marketing, and advertising copywriter, if you do not have the in-house expertise, you will have to outsource your proofreading and editing needs. You have enormous competition out there vying for the same market share and anything short of the highest possible quality will fall well short in terms of your bottom line.

Testimonials and Reviews Speak Volumes

Seek out solid testimonials from any editing professional you are considering. Nothing is more powerful than the direct word of previous or ongoing clients of the professional editor under review. You can see examples of my own client testimonials which are featured on not only the Testimonials page but also the Home page. Be aware that even testimonials published online or in print may not be the real deal so be prudent in following up directly with the writer of such testimonials if at all in doubt. Editing professionals will usually be more than happy to seek the permission of their raving clients for prospective client contact provided their client’s wishes as to the means of contact is satisfied.

Not every editorial professional has a university degree in support of and relevant to his or her services. Through years of experience in various vocations, where they possess an exceptional command of the English language, they are solid candidates in their own right. To avoid frustration and disappointment, opt for personal and professional editing for optimum results. Editing takes tremendous commitment to ensure a consistent, painstaking focus and effective process. There is no room to leave your desired results open to chance.

My sincere best wishes go out to everyone in the pursuit of excellence; getting it right the first and every time will help make a significant difference in your bottom line.

Essential Elements of Effective Writing; Plan, Draft, Revise, Proofread and Edit


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Avoiding Problems

Editing and proofreading are critical elements of the writing process but make sure that you give equal and unwavering priority to the writing process itself. Read on…

When writers make haste with any of the essential steps of content development the end result can be a document that lacks clarity, confuses the reader, will appear poorly conceived and lacking authority. At the proofreading stage, the task of going back after your content is completed to resolve such issues will add a substantial amount of work and frustration to the proofreading and editing stages.

Proofreading and editing must be an exacting exercise that examines your content right from the title or heading through to the closing sentence of your content. That goes for any content that is to be distributed in professional circles throughout your place of business, published to a website or other online location or a book manuscript published in print or electronic formats. It is a painstaking and absolutely necessary final step of ensuring your content is error-free, grammatically sound, structurally, substantively and stylistically consistent, fluid and solid in presentation and message delivery.

Unless you take the time and exacting effort to follow through on each and every one of the critical steps to the writing process you are running the risk of your readers questioning your professional standards, your expertise or authority level and the critical risk that your readers or targeted audience will not read through the content and never return to engage in your future publications.

Effective Writing and Editing Strategies

Sufficient Time Allocation

Be sure to allocate sufficient time for articulate, clear and concise content development, proofreading and editing. Create an advanced timeline on a calendar or content management system software that will ensure that you stay on track and on topic. Leave room for unanticipated delays.

Keep in mind that there is nothing worse than scheduling your work so tightly that if any unforeseen distractions or delays occur you are cornered into a stressful and frustrating situation, especially if hard deadlines for submission are on the table. Also, anticipate sufficient time at the conclusion of the project to fully execute the proofreading and editing stages AND time to go back for further revisions and an additional round(s) of proofreading if necessary. So much can be sacrificed by rushing content development only to submit your work before it is at its absolutely best form, presentation, and message delivery.

Brainstorming Your Content in Advance

Set down an advance chronological sequence of content layout, format and subject matter. If you don’t have a plan in place to achieve specific objectives with your content according to its intended audience, your distributed or published material will lack the relevant focus it needs to have the optimum impact on your reading audience. You will also find inconsistencies in your content flow or progression.

From a marketing standpoint, clearly envision ahead of time what problem you are addressing that your readers will typically be faced with and what the best solutions are for your readers or customers to implement to avoid problems and make their life better, smoother, more enjoyable and prosperous.

Research and Knowledge about Your Resources

You should have a solid grasp of essential grammatical and citation rules that apply to the type of content you are producing. If you are getting into unfamiliar territory with the proofreading and editing disciplines you should consider bringing someone into the process that is proficient with resolving spelling, grammar, punctuation and all that is entailed with proofreading and editing textual content.

Keep essential tools such as on or offline dictionaries, thesauruses, style guides, research documents and relevant articles, handbooks and more. Having a skilled and competent mentor available when you need clarification is also a valued asset to the process. At every step of the way, if in doubt refer to those resources rather than leaving the task for the proofing and editing phases which can become monumental works of their own.

Identify Your Vulnerabilities  

Set down on paper a list of those issues which you tend to make errors on; in doing so you will minimize the editing process later on. By following a list of your common challenges you become much more mindful of avoiding those various errors line by line through your content development stages.

The Proofreading and Editing Processes

Many writers elect to print out a hard copy of their content on paper as a preferred method of reading back their content for proofreading and editing purposes. Professional editors and proofreaders will often elect to print for their purposes as well. Errors are often harder to detect on a computer screen. A related practice is to use a straight edge i.e. a book, blank page or ruler to control the eye’s focus strictly on each line being examined to ensure that you are fully focused word by word on each line.

When reading large volumes of written content it is common for the reader to experience a ‘lazy eye’ or scanning/glazing over of textual content. As the author of such content it is easy to become over-confident in your own writing accuracy and the habit of quick scanning of content rather than deliberate, focused attention to every detail becomes a risk. As such, even with repeated rounds of proofreading, you can quite easily fall into this glazing over habit with repeated missed errors as a result.

After your written work has been completed plan some time to sit back and relax away from the project before sitting down for the proofreading and editing processes. Rest your eyes and your mind for a few days before returning to your content. Review with fresh eyes and clarity of mind! You will be much sharper in readiness for this critical phase of your writing.

As an early detection and issue identification process during the writing stages of your content, you may wish to implement software such as Grammarly.com’s online extension for grammar checks. Do not rely solely on any such software to fully identify and resolve the many English language issues that can arise during the writing process.

Read Content Back Aloud

A great way to help you maintain focus is to read back your content out loud. By doing so, you will audibly hear and detect obvious inconsistencies in content delivery, confusing wording or phrasing or material generally out of context with the subject matter. Reading aloud forces you to focus on the text itself rather than the theme or specific ideas being presented. Sentence fragments are a very common issue with many writers. They tend to write as they would speak however incomplete or fragmented sentences are not grammatically correct, read poorly and are often confusing for the reader.

Reading Content Backwards

You may be scratching your head right now at this suggestion but it is also a highly effective method of tighter focus on individual letters and words during the proofreading process. It forces the eyes to have an even narrower focus on individual words, their spelling, sentence completion and comprehension and overall cohesive flow of content from one paragraph to the next.

Have you ever found that in second or third rounds of proofreading you are still missing errors? The problem is very common and goes back to my reference earlier here of the author becoming over-confident in their own writing accuracy. With that over-confidence brings the bad habit of scanning or glazing over content rather than a strict focus on every single letter, word, phrase, and sentence throughout your content.

Think of editing this way: Clean, clear and concise content that informs, inspires, educates and/or entertains is critical. Just as critical is presenting error-free, grammatically correct content and that your ideas flow consistently. When readers and especially potential clients, business associates and influencers read your material, it is critical that they have an extremely positive, impressed and enthusiastic response to your content.

That being said, why would you risk losing that critical new audience, collectively or individually, through sloppy textual content that is riddled with the type of errors already raised here previously? The same goes for purchasing customers of your novels. Make your body of work the best it can possibly be.

thClosely Check Your Punctuation

Punctuation is one area of textual writing that is often overlooked. It is an area that demands advanced study and understanding and should never be second-guessed during the writing process. For anyone well-versed in proper punctuation, nothing looks worse than sloppy, haphazard or misplaced and incorrect use of punctuation.

The English language is highly complex. Unfortunately, the educational system typically glazes over proper grammatical practices. For anyone who aspires to become a published writer or in any way must produce accurate, informative and highly polished and professional content through their place of employment, their business or otherwise, taking appropriate courses in advance to gain that essential knowledge is a must.

Where you do not possess such knowledge you will need to hire a professional proofreader and/or editor to undertake the proofing and editing phases of your content development prior to its distribution or publication. You can utilize MS Word’s built-in spelling and grammar check software as a starting point to the process once your content is ready for proofing but we aware that such software, free or purchased, is not infallible. The software is not human and as such, even through extensive programming the software cannot and does not fully detect spelling and grammatical errors.

Because programming cannot fully address the detection of any and all types of textual content errors for issues such as correct proper name spelling, sentence fragmentation, every instance of proper punctuation and grammar applications, the final examination authority rests with human eyes. The technology just isn’t that far advanced that it is even close to being perfect at this point in time.

Run-on Sentences

Like many of us, it is very easy to find yourself writing elongated or “run-on” sentences. The Flesch-Kincaid Readability Standard was established by scholars years ago which address this issue in the overall presentation of textual content writing. I have focused on these various elements addressed by the standard in a previous article and will not cover that range in this article again today.

The Flesch-Kincaid Readability principles have become ever more critical in today’s world of huge demands on people’s time and focus. This has become statistically evident even more so online where effective content presentation is essential to content marketing and retaining our readers’ short attention span. In a time when online searches produce relevant content in a matter of seconds and the reader expects to determine in only seconds whether or not they are at the right location for the information, they are seeking, highly engaging content is all the more critical.

Once you have engaged readers in your content, on or offline, you must be constantly mindful that all content is well spaced, with easy to read and understand wording. Sentences need to be kept short and to the point and you should refrain from developing paragraphs that exceed three or four sentences maximum, on average, throughout your content body.

As such, well-spaced content that includes space between relatively short paragraphs gives the reader’s eyes a brief pause or rest before reading on and can actually provide critically brief moments to absorb what they have just read. In turn, this overall formula helps to maintain focus, interest, and perspective during that reading experience.

If that focus or interest begins to wander the reader is more inclined to click out or close the book without finishing the read to refer elsewhere for their reading purposes. In terms of published content like novels that translates to lost revenue and repeat customers for the writer.

Ensuring Proper Citation Presentation

Where you have content which requires reference to its original source for proper authority reference, you will need to ensure that you apply the appropriate format of citation and location (in-text). Also, ensure that the references are properly displayed and located i.e. either ‘footnotes’ for references located at the bottom of the same page where the citation is found or ‘endnotes’ which are located at the end or conclusion of a particular chapter or body of text that the citation is found in.

Proper Quotation Form

When you are providing a quotation of the written or verbalized statement of another, you must be sure to include the word for word content in its entirety. Make sure all quoted content is spelled and worded exactly as it was presented by the originator. The quotation should therefore not be altered in any way from its original content and form.

Obtain Content Feedback

Before going forward with your content distribution or publication, take the time to seek feedback from friends, acquaintances, work associates, industry professionals. As writers, we tend to be so closely attached to our written work that we lose a level of objectivity when it comes to the perceived quality of what we write. We are often less critical and effective when it comes to proofreading and editing our own content objectively.

By getting the opinions and early responses from those objective individuals you can get a better sense of how recipients of your content, whether through business or publication, will receive your work. Will they perceive you as an expert source of information or entertainment and want to obtain more of your future works or look to others for that desire or need?

That outside objectivity will help to identify weak spots in your content that contain an error in fact or are less engaging. Feedback will help identify areas of your content that is unclear or confusing, perhaps not fully consistent with the storyline or forward movement of idea flow.

Taking these steps will help you to ensure that your writing improves and is the best it can possibly be in advance of it going out to its intended audience.

~

Subscribe to the Lasting Impressions Editing Newsletter

© Don MacIver 2017; All Rights Reserved

8 Copywriting Essentials to Master in 2017


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1st Rule of Engagement; Stop Selling Yourself & Focus on Customer Benefits!

What essential copywriting elements drive response?  Copywriting has been around for a long, long time and although the focus and perspective evolves to an extent over time as marketing and advertising professionals rethink and reshape, the core principle of copywriting today centers on how your prospective customer or client will benefit; what’s in it for them? Read on to find ways to zero in on best copy strategies for your market.

Lose sight of that focus on how you can help your customer acquire a less complicated, more enjoyable and problem-free life experience and conveying that very story at all times is key to capturing your targeted market’s attention and desire to keep reading what you have to say…and clicking through as directed to find out more and make that critical buy decision.

For as long as memory serves, the sole focus in marketing and advertising copy was centric to ‘Buy me, buy me, and yes, buy me.” Not anymore!

Regardless of ongoing innovations in digital marketing and PPC (pay per click) advertising, writing effective ad copy continues to be the essential factor in driving audience engagement and compelling them to want to find out more and ultimately may offer a prospective purchaser whether what you offer is a product line, services or causes and more.

Be aware that the platforms that we are using as marketing vehicles are in a constant state of flux. We must always stay current on the many changes those vehicles are undergoing. As equally important, the reasons for those changes and how we as marketers and business proponents need to adjust and take advantage of the new and improved version of those vehicles drives new potential in a fiercely competitive marketing arena.

Industry Tools

As demanding as research is in terms of our dedication of time and energy, we need to always be aware and intimately understanding of the many relevant tools and technologies that are developed to enhance our targeted audience reach and engagement. You cannot afford to allow your own strategy and techniques to fall short in terms of ad copy that is not on-point or all of your efforts will lose ground rapidly in terms of relevance and effect.

Master the Craft of Skilled Copywriting 

Take your craft of copywriting skills to the next level through ongoing research and development or your return on your efforts will fall well short of expectations. Be sure that you implement current standards as time passes to that end.

Keywords remain an important part of your copy strategy. Use your core keywords in your ads in accordance with current Google policy guidelines at all times. Never underestimate the critical importance of algorithmic and content ranking that comes with Google updates as they occur, at times twice or more within the same twelve-month period.

Lag behind in your awareness of what the major search engines expect to see in your content at any given time, especially Google, will prove harmful to your website and can result in critical loss of visibility to the extent that all your hard work to develop your hub presence online becomes virtually ineffective and your site ‘invisible’ to those searching for what you have to offer.

8 Copywriting Essentials

1) Write Your Copy to Meet User Needs & Objectives

›  Make sure that you anticipate what your targeted market/audience needs and/or wants to make their lives or businesses better. That takes research so take full advantage of all relevant articles and innovative new data analytics tools which help define who your audience reach includes (demographics) in terms of relevance, interests, geographical location, age, gender, education, vocation and more.

›  Phrase your ad copy very carefully to make sure you are capturing their attention and appealing directly to what those needs and desires are.

2) Use of Numbers or Statistics in Headlines

› Market prospects will often share what their purchase budget is in advance. By including pricing in your ad copy you will help with the consumer’s decision process when they are considering your ad vs the ads of your competitors and what they have to offer.

3) Appeal to Your Market’s Sense of Entitlement

› This area of marketing may be less familiar to you. People today have an acute sense of entitlement. They have strong and deeply personal perspective on what they should be able and are entitled to have in their life not only in terms of lifestyle but also personal belongings/possessions and more. Appeal to that sense of entitlement in terms of emotional response to your ads by your prospective customers.

4) Emotional Triggers

› When writing your brand story and ad copy draw on responsive emotions that will drive reaction and potential decision making motivation i.e. excitement, anger, disgust, fear, urgency. Statements of affirmation and humor also invoke response. Use careful and respectful wording when drawing on these type of emotions so as never to come across in an offensive way.

5) Write Unique, Keyword Rich Display URL’s

› Be aware that diplay URL’s are often of greater interest and relevance for ad copy. Design your ad copy to contain your top or core keywords. Remember that search engines pick up on keyword elements which help to identify what a particular article, blog or website is all about. That is essential to your placement and positioning in search results!

› Remember to always incorporate your core keywords into your website and blog/article headings and body text in addition to the ad copy you write. There should be a direct correlation between your various online presences accordingly.

6) Use of Punctuation to End the First Description Line

› End your first description line after your headline with a punctuation mark i.e. an exclamation mark (!). By doing so your ad may receive an ‘elongated headline‘ if that ad places in the top three search results. An ‘elongated’ or ‘extended’ headline means that the text from your first description line is moved up to the headline. The extended ad headline has the effect of increasing the CTR (click-through rate) of ads. 

7) Anticipate Common Objections with Well-Crafted Copy

› Read back your headline and ad copy repeatedly to make sure that it will have the desired affect on its intended audience. Before even writing that copy, make sure you have fully considered who your intended/targeted audience is and how they will react to your copy wording. Always remember that by staying focused on your ad copy wording you are creating a positive influence when it comes to the reader’s decision process between you and your competitors. When it comes to ad copy, first impressions are critical. There are rarely second chances in the marketing and advertising copy realm of thinking.

8) Focus Your Ad Copy on Benefits

› Last but certainly by no means least is this ad copy essential; regardless of past convention, do not sell yourself or your company by telling people how great you are! This is critical. Understand that they only care about how you can make their life easier or better for them. The consumer today is sick and tired of the age-old marketing and sales approach that is “Buy me, buy me.” They just don’t want to see, hear or otherwise embrace that tactic anymore. They know what advertising is purposed for. Still, their focus is strictly on how they alone will benefit from what you have to offer…so maintain the ad copy focus strictly on them!

Make absolutely sure that your ad copy is clear on what the reading consumer will gain for themselves by purchasing your product, service or cause. Lose sight of this critical convention and you have just wasted a lot of time, effort and advertising dollars (for yourself or your client) only to see your ad campaign fall flat on its face with lackluster results. After all, the ad IS all about the consumer!

For more information on copywriting take a look at this HubSpot.com list of Fantastic Copywriting.

Manuscript Formatting Guidelines for Authors


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Mastering eBook Manuscript Formatting

Today, I want to reach out to publishing authors, especially those who may be closing in on their publisher submission date with their manuscript nearing its powerful conclusion! I want to share some essentials for producing a clean manuscript file with advance knowledge of the critical publishing element of manuscript formatting.

As a manuscript editor, proofreader and formatting specialist, one of the very first questions I ask my author clients is: “Have you set up your manuscript formatting in advance of getting down to the writing part of the business?” The answer is most often a curious (or nervous) “no”.

When you publish your book in electronic or ‘eBook’ format you must adjust your MS Word manuscript file document to comply with your chosen publisher’s ‘Content & Formatting Guidelines’. This must be done in advance of the writing process in your Word document file to ensure that your interior content for the book has a clean, quality presentation with a high level of comfortable ‘readability’.

First and Best Advice to Authors:  Before you begin to type your story content into your Word file, always preset your document formatting to comply with your chosen publisher’s Formatting Guidelines. I will explain this requirement in more detail below.


Manuscript Formatting Guidelines for Authors

Lasting Impressions Editing; Newsletter No. 3, March 29, 2017

Formatting for eBooks in MS Word

The following book manuscript formatting guide is offered strictly as an overview. Authors or their assigned/engaged editor/formatting specialist should always refer directly to the chosen publisher’s ‘Formatting Guidelines’ as published in the ‘Content and Formatting Guidelines’ section of the publisher website to verify all formatting requirements. Such formatting guidelines can vary between publishers.

Building your manuscript in an MS Word document file goes a long way to simplifying the formatting process. Numerous of the ‘default’ Word document settings will comply with publisher formatting requirements however always refer to the chosen publisher’s guidelines provided to be certain you do not have subsequent submissions issues.

As an editor/proofreader and formatting services professional I have periodically discovered immediate formatting issues where a client has completed their manuscript development in advance of turning the file over to me for my proofing processes. At times the client had not reviewed the formatting guidelines of their chosen publisher with resultant conflict and textual and/or image distortion. If such conflicts in formatting are typical throughout a large manuscript file it can become quite costly for the author to have their editor correct the formatting issues front to back.

It is critical that publisher content and formatting guidelines are adhered to carefully to avoid the possibility of manuscript rejection by the publisher upon submission. The publisher requires quality content submission free of formatting issues which would otherwise compromise the reading experience for purchasing customers.

To alleviate this potential problematic and time-consuming/costly situation for my author clients I have prepared a pre-formatted Word document template, in full compliance with publisher guidelines, such that my client can commence writing their story manuscript directly into a Word file saved from the template that I have furnished them; a clean start right out of the gate!

For an author, these technical issues can be extremely time-consuming and stressful when all they want to do is maintain focus on their manuscript content development without distraction. It is also essential that whoever prepares the pre-formatted template undertakes a full review of the publisher content and formatting guidelines to ensure that they fully understand what is required so that there are no disruptive interruptions experienced during writing process. Also remember that publications periodically update/modify their formatting and content guidelines. It is critical that the chosen publisher guidelines be carefully reviewed before each new publication.

Formatting Tools in MS Word Documents 

For anyone who sets up the required formatting in the Word document ahead of the manuscript writing process, whether the author or their hired representative, it is essential that you familiarize yourself, well in advance of the writing stages, with the numerous functional formatting elements of MS Word documents. You will find the formatting tools across the top portion of your Word document (as illustrated through the visual above). The physical appearance and content layout may appear somewhat different depending on your particular version of Windows/MS Word.

Although numerous of the Windows Word default settings can be applied to your manuscript document, it remains essential that some of additional formatting settings be preset in accordance with the chosen publisher’s formatting specifications found in the formatting guidelines on the publisher’s website. Doing so will help avoid/minimize formatting issues that can delay the publisher’s acceptance of your manuscript submission and costly corrections if you have engaged someone else to address such issues. I am repetitive on this point and for very good reason.

Following are a series of general formatting guidelines to help you get started on the right track:

Home Navigation:

The formatting elements in Word range from the font face, size and color to text alignment, line spacing, textual content ‘styles’ for headings/title and subheads, body text format and more, each typically located under the ‘Home’ navigation key at the top of the Word window.

Insert Navigation:

Formatting elements found in this section include the insertion of page breaks, picture/images, creating a hyperlink, creating a header and/or footer and page numbering or ‘pagination’.

Page Layout:

Under this formatting category you will find page margin settings, page orientation (portrait/landscape), page size (select the page size that correlates with your chosen book ‘trim size’, number of columns if applicable; various types of page, column and text wrapping settings and section breaks. Be very careful to only use those settings permitted by the publisher guidelines.

A number of Word ‘default’ settings (as you find them preset when you open your new Word document) can be used but always refer to the publisher formatting guidelines first. There are absolute restrictions or reference to ‘minimal use’ of ‘forced formats ‘ stipulated by most publisher guidelines i.e. bold, italics etc. because the publisher wants your readers/consumers to be able to set their own reading preferences for their best reading experience. Overuse of certain ‘forced text’ formats can result in poor content appearance and readability.

Indentation:

Click open the ‘Paragraph’ drop down menu to preset ‘Indents’ and ‘Spacing’ defaults, again with reference to the publisher guidelines.

Tables:

If you need to use tables in your book manuscript, select ‘Insert Table’ in your Word formatting panel and choose the appropriate settings.

Font Face:

Most publishers only allow the use of three or four font face types i.e. Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial or Cambria because they are the most simplistic visually and convert best when the manuscript is submitted to the publisher through their conversion software. The noted fonts are considered by the publishers as best suited for optimum readability. Always check the publisher’s formatting guidelines to be sure which fonts are acceptable before you begin the writing process.

Page Breaks:

This is critical!  At the end of each chapter of your book, ONLY USE ‘INSERT PAGE BREAK’ to advance your cursor to the first line of the next (new) chapter page. NEVER ADVANCE THE CURSOR USING THE SPACE BAR OR TAB KEYS! If you do use the space bar or TAB key to advance the cursor either down the page or to the next page/chapter you will actually create serious formatting issues (not visible in Word) that will have to be corrected later on before submission).

Chapter Name or Number:

Always consistently use the first line of a new chapter for your Chapter Name or Number (as preferred).

Margins:

Always set your top, left, bottom and right margins in accordance with the publisher’s formatting guidelines. The interior or ‘gutter’ margins setting will vary depending on your book’s page count and details regarding the determination of this setting are found in the publisher’s guidelines.

First Line Indent:

Be sure to preset your desired ‘First Line Indent’ via the ‘Paragraph’ indentation settings provided through the ‘Paragraph’ drop down menu.

First Line Text:

Always be consistent with spacing between your Chapter Name or Number and the opening line of body text for each new chapter i.e. 4 or 5 spaces maximum using the ‘Shift + Enter’ keys only.

Line Breaks:

Do NOT hit the ‘Enter’ key at the end of each line. Word automatically wraps text to the next line while you are typing. To insert a line break part way through a paragraph or sentence press ‘Shift + Enter’ together to ensure that spacing between sentences is not altered.

Image Placement:

Be very careful with image use in the body of the manuscript and only as directed by the publisher guidelines. Pay particular attention to all specifications in the publisher’s guidelines in this regard.

Insert a photo image using JPEG formatted images with center alignment. Do not copy and paste images into your manuscript. Disregard the guidelines here and you will have a horrible time with altered, misaligned, blurred, missing or otherwise distorted images.

In Word, go to ‘Insert’ > Picture and then select an image file that is saved to your Pictures folder on your PC’s hard drive to upload into your manuscript file. Be careful to be aware of color restriction in eBook formats. Images are generally displayed in multiple shades of gray only for optimal contrast and clarity.

Cover Image:

Do not include your cover image(s) in your manuscript file. They are to be uploaded separately at the time of submission to the publisher. The cover image file is only submitted once (unless a subsequent cover design/change is made). At the time of publishing submission and republishing of your book, the publisher will automatically add the cover image again.

Spelling & Grammar Check:

Publishing authors are encouraged to use Word’s built-in spelling and grammar check utility but publishers strongly recommend that manual proofreading and desired textual editing be exercised as well because current content scanning software does not necessarily capture/detect all errors in English spelling and grammatical content for correctness.

Active Table of Contents:

An active Table of Contents (TOC) in your book is typically located immediately following the ‘front matter’ of the book. The TOC provides for ease of navigation throughout the book for your readers.

Note: Page numbering is not used in eBook formats because content (like Kindle) is re-sizable and displays differently during the conversion process. Page numbering can be adversely affected by the use of page numbering or ‘pagination’ in electronic publishing.

Chapter Name/Number Formatting: By highlighting each chapter name (or number) and setting each individual chapter name or number to the Heading 1 (H1) format, the Table of Contents will detect and display sequential chapters in order once activated.

Time is of the essence and critical to all authors, most understandably. Still, take the time right up front before you begin the writing process to understand the importance of formatting for electronic book publishing today and going into the future. If this is not within your wheelhouse as an author, engage a formatting professional to do it for you.

Regardless, make sure that your Word document is pre-formatted so that you start out on a clean slate and be fully conversant with formatting guidelines so that you do not inadvertently introduce formatting issues/errors to your manuscript file.

© Don MacIver, Editor, Writer, Lasting Impressions Editing 2017; All Rights Reserved

Copywriting for Strategic Delivery


copywritingOne of the most critical aspects about advertising and marketing in its various forms is where the focus lies. In this article I will share critical perspective in the sales and marketing process through effective copywriting. 

For three years now I have incorporated copywriting in my core group of services as an essential part of helping my clients capture an ever-increasing audience. Whether you are an author, writer, poet, business professional, advertising specialist or indeed a copywriter you need to understand and embrace the core principles of copywriting and how this critical discipline is ever more important today and moving forward.

What Is Copywriting?

Let’s start with the basics. Copywriting is the writing of textual content for advertisingcopywritingdefinition and various other forms of marketing. ‘Copy’ is defined as ‘written content which is intended to increase brand awareness and to persuade readers to decide to act; to read, to hire, to purchase.

Copywriting is the strategic delivery of words that will get people to take a desired action and is one of the most essential components of online marketing. Effective copywriting skills takes time to develop through research, study and analysis of its essential cause and effect; what approach to writing copy will have the greatest effect on the targeted reader or audience?

Need To Know

The copywriter must understand their targeted audience’ perspective on things; your message must align with how your prospective customer sees things. Know and understand what their motivations and desires are. Ultimately, the copywriter must meet their basic expectations and go beyond to exceed their expectations!

SEO Copywriting

SEO Copywriting is a specialized form of writing that:

  • contains ‘keyphrases’, word phrases which your targeted audience/reader uses in their search terms to find what you have to offer.
  • helps to increase web content ranking in search results through Google, Bing, Ask and other search engines.
  • drives qualified traffic to online content i.e. websites, blogs, published articles etc.

Online Content Must Fulfill Two Essential Purposes

»  Content must appeal and/or be relevant to your audience/readers.

»  Google, Bing, Ask and other search engines must perceive your content as actionable/valuable/usable immediately by your readers. Your content must be quality and reflect you as a knowledgeable/authoritative resource. 


While my initial clients were primarily authors I soon became increasingly aware of the need for advanced writing skills and related services that would help each client not only bring a clarity and correctness to their work but also capture the attention of an ever-widening audience for them through copy centric business practices.

Business clients needed to engage in meaningful content analysis and discussion to establish a new way of highlighting the product or service that they offered. Most critical of all was how they said what they did through their website and communications; how they appealed to the prospective audience’ emotional responses based on their needs and desires.

One of the most critical aspects of content marketing, whether through book publishing or professional business or marketing and communications endeavors, individuals with important document submissions or business websites and beyond…is the essential need to connect with the right people, using the right words in the right place and time. As stated earlier, we need to connect with our targeted audience or readers in a way that embraces the perspective of those individuals, what they need and expect from us.

My author clients pour their heart and soul into their storylines. Many of them are employed and have a host of responsibilities and hours of work which pose limitations on the time they have to dedicate to not only writing but marketing their publications. Marketing of any product takes ongoing research and applied methods that are current; search algorithms, like Google, change frequently and must be part of the process of marketing as critical best practices change.

Business professionals, already bogged down in daily regimens of fulfilling their own respective responsibilities have little to no time for extensive research, effective writing that engages and sells nor the resources to invest extensively in paid advertising; that’s where experienced marketing and copywriting professionals come into play with a company whether an internal hire or a contracted service.

I have begun to work with advertising professionals to bring essential copywriting skills to the table in tandem with their superlative illustrative and graphic design elements for a superior, well-rounded advertising presentation that fully engages people in a powerful way and compels them to response, to immediate action, to hire or purchase.

Transitional Approach from Selling to Copy-Centric Engagement

Marketing takes a finely developed strategy. Our content must be quality-driven and provide the consumer with highly informative, interesting, entertaining and/or usable content that the consumer can use NOW, that they can take away meaningful and practical information that they can apply to make their lives better or resolve a problem TODAY!

Critical Rule of Selling

Always remember to write from the perspective of your targeted audience

  • Have absolute and focused empathy for the customer
  • Write to serve that customer (not to serve yourself)
  • Write to recognize and solve their problem or in some other way make their life better

Appeal to Emotions

Aspirations ~ Shame ~ Fear ~ Suspicion ~ Belonging

Always appeal to your reader/audience’ sense of motivational triggers with care and respect:

  • Their desire to dream or succeed
  • Their need to justify their failures; write to expose a failure and release it by wiping the slate clean. They should take the positive from the experience, to learn from it and move on.
  • People are naturally drawn to those who make them feel safe/secure.
  • People want to have a sense of belonging and have a sense of loyalty to a ‘tribe’

Historically, marketers have focused on selling their product to serve themselves, to meet their targeted sales objectives. Today, the marketing pendulum has swung away from the ‘Buy Me’ approach because people are quite simply sick and tired of being sold to.

People now want a sense of engagement, trust and the ability to make quick purchase or hire decisions based on reliable, quality and informative, customer-centric appeal.


Any author, writer, business professional or individual can increase their website traffic, reader engagement, communications audience reach and sales levels by using my editing, copywriting and publishing services to help compel their audience to  respond and take action for a more enjoyable, meaningful and gainful experience today!


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Introducing: Lasting Impressions Editing Newsletter!


Hello friends.

Today I am excited to announce the forthcoming launch of the FREE Lasting Impressions Editing Newsletter’, an information rich publication that you can draw practical content from that you can take action on right away!

I’ll share breaking news from the editorial industry; author publishing insights that are making a difference for writers in this hugely competitive industry; innovative social media trends as they evolve; content marketing strategies; business communications best practices and more.

Watch for my own special offers and Lasting Impressions Editing news as it happens! I am anticipating some great things coming along in the way of new client projects this year and will share the news ‘hot off the press’!

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Audience Engagement & Social Media Profiling in 2017


add-social-media-buttonsAre your website, social and professional media platforms producing the kinds of traffic and conversion results that you have anticipated? You’ve spent countless hours adjusting your online presence to comply with previous search engine algorithm changes, primarily Google, to no apparent avail? This article will focus on those two elements to your online presence and how to get improved results for the new algorithm updates just released for 2017.

Once again search algorithm updates are changing the way we develop our web content on our websites and blogs and through social and professional media platforms.

Improving the Mobile Experience

First things first; you’ve heard of the buzz over the past year about the rapid escalation of mobile use for internet access. This story continues to move forward to the extent that you can expect that the same trends will continue for years to come. Previously we were focused on optimizing our website and social/professional media for greater visibility in search engine results pages (SERP’s) and advance preparations to ensure that our online locations are mobile friendly.

The mobile technology requires changes to web design well beyond what the average user is familiar with and experts handle that in their website builder designs. What you and I must get on board with right NOW is ensuring that your website or blog is indeed configured for mobile browsing. The background design work has been established and factored into web design and now the end users (ourselves) need to do a number of things to our websites, blogs and social media to further that mobile friendliness in order that when mobile users arrive at our site or page they have an optimum viewing experience, failing which they will quickly click out and move on with the search results elsewhere.

Responsive design is simply not enough. You need to be sure that all of your navigation and site elements are highly intuitive and convenient for your visitors.

Long form content now reigns supreme. Develop your content through lengthy articles that are comprehensive; that is, to fully and deeply cover your topic. Don’t glaze over with superfluous content that does not help readers solve their problem; give them lots of details that represent advice for your readers.

People are sick and tired of old news that has no depth and lacking usable information and meaning. You now need to do extensive research on your subject matter to enable you to produce information-rich long-form articles that provide value to your readers. I know what you’re thinking; now I have to spend hours researching from countless sources and writing even longer articles. I’m pressed for time more than ever.

Because there is such a high level of priority and focus now placed on long-form, information rich content, make that your focus and relax your post schedule to accommodate fewer posts. That way you trim the time factor while maximizing the quality of content you provide for your readers. Never lose site of the end objective; increased traffic, authority interest, followers/subscribers, engagement and conversion to sales or increased customers/clients.

Social Media in 2017

Your social and professional media platforms continue to be crucially important assets for reader engagement, pushing brand awareness, driving consumers to your landing pages, websites and blogs as well as other intended online destinations. That sequence of audience transitions furthers our SEO objectives.

Today, in terms of your social media accounts, the new order for audience engagement is to become much more actively social with your followers and non-followers alike and far less focus and posting on BUY ME, BUY ME, and BUY ME. Engage with your followers and other social media users on their own Tweets or Facebook updates and do so in a genuine, meaningful way that illustrates your interest and engagement in their interests. Stop the constant selling!

By interacting socially with fellow users you subtly support your own brand through the experiential authority of your comments, your voice online. Wherever possible, practice this user engagement with those whose own account platform has relevance to your own. Then and only then do you have something which is mutually interesting to each other to talk about. Demonstrate your brand expertise being sure that your comments are fully relevant to the other party’s interests as expressed in their Tweets/update posts.

Non-Business Engagement: Don’t lose perspective on the importance of social engagement. Drop your shoulders, remove your tie, kick off your shoes and relax with social engagements. Factor that essential time into your schedule.

Comment on others’ posts that you liked; tell them that you got a lot from their post and thank them by name. If there is no room to comment directly on their Tweet, reply to them or send them a private message with the same compliment. Share others’ Tweets or Facebook updates frequently. Shares are a critical way to expand your fellow users’ audience reach and you will find that they reciprocate accordingly.

Be sure to always use the other user’s name in your responsive comments; personalize your comment by saying: “Nancy, what you’ve shared here really resonates with me. Many thanks!” Then follow up with later interaction, perhaps by private message or chat, share more specific comments and develop two-way conversation in a meaningful way. Assure them that their article or post gave you useful, meaningful insights.

By following this approach you’re not just fluffing through your comments in an ingenuous attempt to grab their attention about you and your brand. People see through that façade immediately. Maintain your comments strictly about them and when they respond with meaningful dialogue, return the gesture with your own meaningful response and close the conversation by wishing them a great day/week.

Do you see the trend that is quickly emerging here? Switch gears and back off the sell, sell, sell accelerator pedal. Reduce the frequency of Tweeting/updates about your own brand and links back to your website or blog considerably. I know that sounds counter intuitive to what we have been practicing for so long yet the new world order online paints a very different picture than those of the past number of years where it was THE only game in town.

Place the sell factor on your website or blog and ads where it belongs. Those vehicles are the primary hub location online where your content marketing should rest, beyond which expand your targeted audience through advertising. Social media advertising continues to be a powerful medium. Transition quickly to being social in your social media platforms.

Social Media Platform Profiles

If you have designed your social media profile properly you have begun by inserting your name or business name at the top of your profile next to your profile photo which should be a nice, professional head and shoulders shot of yourself in business attire (smile, looking directly at the camera or slightly off center) or your business logo.  Follow with your hashtag keywords that have the highest relevance and potential search terms that people will use to find what you have to offer. Those hashtag keywords are critical not only for search results but also to tell visitors what you have to offer once they land on your page.

Make sure you have included your business website or blog URL – a must to navigate people back to your website where the marketing process takes place. If character limitations become an issue, use a TinyURL or similar for the website or blog link. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is also linked through your social media profile and if there is still room add a short URL link(s) to your Facebook page. Add your location by city and province or state. This is especially important for the many that search for such services or products in their own locale.

A Word on Personal vs. Professional Pages on Social Media Platforms:  I strongly advise that you keep your professional content on social media platforms separate from your personal pages. Why? Because the two do not mix for the majority of people. Keep the two separate and by having individual professional pages on each of your social media platforms and LinkedIn as well. On Facebook I opened with my personal page and when I launched my business I created a business page that focuses on the business end. I am also a published writer/poet and keep that aspect of my online presence separate as well. Many people hate users posting business content on their personal page; after all it is a social platform. Business has become a huge part of social media in recent years but keep it separate from your personal page, otherwise you may well suffer adverse effects of lower follower numbers and engagement accordingly.

Images & Video Media

Another critically important aspect of social media content is the use of high quality images and videos that will have relevance to your brand, or that of your targeted audience, and which add informational/beneficial value for your followers. While staying away from the BUY ME aspect of your content, link only to the relevant image/video source or related article.

LinkedIn Profiles

5498550a7fca10fe79bcc8171fd8dea7-linkedin-logo

I cannot stress enough the importance of having a LinkedIn profile; if you are a business person, a marketing expert, a social media enterprise, a professional of any description or a writer, author or poet who is marketing their product, services or cause, or if you are job hunting or want to have a professional presence for business networking purposes and potential employer exposure, having a LinkedIn account is essential. The power of this mammoth professional networking platform cannot be understated.

LinkedIn Profile Image

A serious note to all of you who have a LinkedIn account for business purposes. LinkedIn is a professional networking platform with emphasis on ‘professional’. Time and time again I see profile photos that are cheesy, idiotic, circus fare, face jammed right up into the camera, comedic and contorted facial expressions, freaky colored hair and the list goes on. STOP THE GOOFY PROFILE PHOTOS. LINKEDIN IS A SITE FOR PROFESSIONALS. There is a rapidly growing furor over those kinds of playhouse mentality profile images.

Your profile photo on LinkedIn must be professional; make sure your appearance is professional. The profile image should always be a head and shoulders photo, hair groomed, clean-shaven, direct gaze into the camera with a nice smile (or slight turn for a partial side profile but only slightly). Wear a crisp, clean outfit suitable for your vocation. Take the photo while you are fresh for the day and not after coming home from a grueling 18 hour day or a night out on town. Looking stoned or otherwise inebriated turns people off fast. People want to be comfortable that in seeing your profile photo they would be dealing with a professional.

I see profile photos that are actually on the diagonal, fully sideways and some that are truly upside down. You want professionals to connect with you? Use photos like just described and they will click out in seconds and ignore your existence. Such photos have no place on a professional networking or marketing platform.

Disclaimer: I only make the foregoing comments about suitable profile photos, not to make fun or belittle anyone, rather, to illustrate the type of professional photo critical for the LinkedIn profile. Save the goofy, cheesy stuff for your socials.

Follow conventional practices in professional circles and avoid experiencing high bounce rates (quick arrival and click outs) that will render your LinkedIn page virtually useless in terms of professional activity and brand marketing and also reduce your website traffic drastically.

You are using the site to foster interest and drive traffic to your website or blog (whichever is your primary business/marketing platform).

Developing Your LinkedIn Profile

The profile page on LinkedIn is your place to sell your experience, talents and potential as a new employee, associate or business partner to those business professionals. The same holds true if you are marketing a product, service or cause. Put your best foot forward and work painstakingly on a quality, error-free, professional presentation of who you are, what you have to offer, what you have achieved and how to contact you. Get a professional friend to help you or hire a professional content writer or editor to get your profile fine-tuned to where it needs to be that tells other professions: “Yes, I want to be associated with this individual and/or their business enterprise.”

Much of my preceding comments on social media will also apply on your LinkedIn profile. Remember that your LinkedIn account is a professional networking platform – ensure that all of your content is just that…professional from top to bottom including your Profile page. I’ve linked my own social media and LinkedIn profiles at the end of this article for you to take a look at if you wish to help you employ best practices in your profile development.

Following is a partial screenshot of my LinkedIn profile page. Click on the visual to expand it for better viewing.

Don MacIver; LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn Profile Image

Use a high quality/resolution photo image of yourself (or your business logo) that is free of distortion. Image specifications are searchable if you are unsure of the most suitable image size to use for best quality image viewing. The image should be clear, sharp and as relevant as possible to your business or profession, services, product or cause. The importance of a professional appearance of the header image is as critical as the header image for your website or blog, often one and the same for brand recognition.

An incomplete, nearly blank profile page is virtually useless here. Even if your experience is minimal you should be able to draw on the experience, education and interests that you have acquired to date and as your experience and employment situation changes. Always remember to update your LinkedIn Profile accordingly.

The colors incorporated into the header image you select should mirror the colors that you have in your business logo. It all goes to brand association and recognition…an important aspect of on-page images. Remember that if you find this page unfamiliar or too difficult to develop on your own, seek the help of a professional associate or friend or even hire a professional writer or editor to set up your profile page. On-page optimization is also essential which many people are not fully conversant with. Your page must be searchable and place well in search results.

That very first field at the top of your profile must be carefully designed from your professional head and shoulder photo image (or logo) to your name and professional credentials and your business name. What follows is the most critical textual elements of your profile; your itemized list of products or services using highest level keywords (on-page optimization for SEO) which must clearly define what you do, what you have to offer and what key components of your business are.

If you are not a business or marketing professional but want a professional presence online, list your qualification/designation and key responsibilities

Contact Information

Be sure to provide your business contact-related content in the fields provided and make sure that this section is updated for any future changes so that the profile does not become outdated or containing dead links.

‘Posts’

Use this relatively new feature for creating and posting your articles which showcase your brand with content that is rich in useful information that readers can use today. Present the most up-to-date information available as readers are frustrated by old news and click out fast. Write high quality articles that benefit the reader the most. Your content should be clear, concise and free of superfluous fluff that has no actionable value for the reader. Provide information that is of strong interest and benefit to your targeted audience.

Summary

Highlight what your key services, products or cause entails or your occupational summarization. Remember who your targeted audience is to profile the most relevant expertise and experience. Do not rush this summary development and make sure that keyword inclusion is carefully designed to alert search engines and pull traffic for those searching for what you have to offer. Ensure that your profile is showing up in search engine results pages (SERP’s). You can test your search visibility by searching with your name and or business name and city location as your search terms. Note: With new online pages or sites it will take some time before it appears in search results provided the proper on-page search optimization and your page/site ranking has been executed.

Portfolio

Begin with a clear and concise summary of what you do and then build your portfolio/project profile with those project or client services most significant to this profile and relevance to your targeted audience and related achievements.

Word this section for optimum interest and action on the part of your professional readers. The Portfolio section is also of great importance to potential employers, clients and human resources/recruitment specialists seeking to find just the right fit for their client position candidate searches.

If you develop your profile effectively you will find that over time you will begin to receive contacts from business professionals who wish to express an interest in your experience and expertise. It is a powerful tool with a broad reach, not to be underestimated. A well written profile on LinkedIn will translate into exposure to any number of opportunity levels, funnel traffic to your website or blog and social media platforms as well.

Client Testimonials

I cannot stress enough how critical this section is. If you have had wonderful professional business, client or customer experiences and relationships, be sure to seek their personal testimonials. By obtaining those attestations about your quality services or products, your business objectives are legitimized and create a buzz of interest. Be sure to obtain permission before posting those testimonials publicly. Extend your thanks to that client or customer and support them in some way as well.

Testimonials are a powerful statement that will help sell your professionalism and brand authority. Flogging yourself can be an endless and sometimes futile effort so make sure you acquire testimonials from your best, most appreciative clients; they will pay it forward in spades.

Experience & Employment History

Use a chronological or hierarchal sequence to listing your career/professional history. As you would with your resume, only focus on the history that is most relevant to your targeted audience, employer or business/job role. Be clear, concise and brief in this section. You do not want to overload information beyond the primary position, company and brief, most relevant responsibilities.

Courses

Outline relevant course studies that advanced your education and skill sets as relevant to the type of position you are pursuing moving forward in your career or that serve to further your expertise and brand relevance.

Skills & Endorsements

This section is critical for highlighting your top level skill sets and expertise. Do not rush or under-populate this crucial field. This is where more defined details of your acquired skill sets or expertise come into play. I have seen countless profiles that limit their skills list to only five or six points. Consider carefully what your functions were with each respective employer during your career to date. Hone in on those critical responsibilities and the essential skills required to do the work effectively.

The Profile allows for 51 different skills to be identified. Use this area to full advantage; exposure for your expertise to all those seeking your experience level i.e. business managers, human resources personnel and recruitment experts all searching to find the one individual that is the best possible fit for their client’s position search. Do not sell yourself short.

In tandem with the skills listings, once you begin to connect with individuals in relevant industries to your own, you will begin to see skills ‘endorsements’ provided by your connections on your behalf. Make sure that you reciprocate those helpful and important gestures and acknowledge the same by initiating conversations through private messaging. Develop relationships and trust, never rushing the selling aspect of your own brand. Through that engagement process you will increase the potential for business, job or professional partnering prospects.

Engaging with your contacts and relevant group discussions develops powerful professional networking activity, perhaps the most effective means of attracting new business customers and clients today. When networking, focus on what you can do for your contacts based on their own needs and not your own. Forgo the personal selling of yourself; that will happen through genuine conversation and in turn establish your brand authority.

Education

Your educational history is fairly self-explanatory. Outline your key educational highlights and acquired qualifications, diplomas, professional designations, certificates or degrees. From this history you will want to emphasize those skills and qualifications that are most relevant to your career pursuits and at given time.

Certifications

Do not miss out or skip over this section when you have educational qualifications. Display your highest (hierarchal) designations, diplomas, certificates or degree(s) here.

Additional Info

Another important section of the profile, just as it is in your resume. Do not skimp on sharing your interests, hobbies, life passions outside the office. Show your human side and what you do with your non-working hours; it paints a complete picture for anyone considering engaging in your services in any way.

Honors & Awards

Again, this is very important information. If you have been bestowed a form of honorary recognition for something you have done over the years, professionally or otherwise, don’t leave anything out, especially an award(s) from your employer. Such awards points to your highest skill levels, achievements and the potential to reciprocate with a new employer or business partner.

Organizations

Getting involved with organizations that are relevant to your own employment or business is important. It can lead to important volunteer work and is certainly a powerful means to network with other business professionals in your community i.e. Chamber of Commerce.

Volunteer Organizations You Support

Volunteer work is an important aspect of your life and commitment to your community. Serving to help others in need is a powerful testament to character. It can also be a very rewarding experience for you personally and again paints a picture for anyone considering engaging with you on a professional level.

Recommendations

This is yet another critical element of the profile building process. When you have a solid experience with a client with whom you have had a good relationship, reach out to them to request a brief written attestation. As with a testimonial, that endorses your abilities in your industry or profession. Such statements are solid gold!

Emphasize a brief statement but if your experience with that individual has been very good, chances are that you will get a lengthier recommendation than you are anticipating! Always express sincere appreciation, publicly if suitable to do so, and pay it back in some way beneficial to the client or customer. Associates will also provide invaluable recommendations.

In summation, invest in the time and energy needed to ensure that your LinkedIn profile is all that it can possibly be. The fruits of your labor are potentially considerable. You will connect with the most amazing, influential individuals, converse in relevant professional groups, network with like minds that move mountains and establish a strong presence in the worldwide professional community.

 

LinkedIn Profile

Twitter Business Profile

Facebook Business Page

 

© Don MacIver 2017; All Rights Reserved