Certified SEO copywriter and content writer

Orlando freelance writer and word slinger

Great to meet you. I’m a freelance writer based out of Orlando, Florida.

Do you have a sparkling website that’s only seen by your employees, your spouse, or your mother? Does your business struggle to keep up with content marketing demands?

I’ve been writing professionally for five years. I love working with language. Every business has a story. Does your content communicate your story in a way that inspires action?

I can help. Check out my Need Copy? page for my services or view my recent clips on my Portfolio page.

 

English 101: Plain Language starts with the basics of good writing

 If you’re new to the business of writing, or if you’ve been at it for years, it’s always good to review the fundamentals. Let’s start with the mighty topic sentence.

One of the most important parts of the paragraph is the topic sentence.

 A topic sentence is like the headline for your paragraph, each sentence within your paragraph should build upon your topic sentence. In general topic sentences are the first sentence of the paragraph, however they can in the middle or the last sentence. Keep in mind that today’s readers are scanners and if your first sentence doesn’t draw them in they will move on quickly.

Examples of topic sentences:

 Gaiman is also a writer who is described by those who work closely with him as intensely devoted.

Michele Filgate Poets & Writers Magazine July/August 2013

This paragraph goes on to include quotes from his editors and agent about how devoted he is to his fans and the business people that support his work.

When a donor heart is ready for transplant, it’s typically packed in a cooler with a bag of cold saline solution.

Amy Paturel AARP Magazine February/March 2013

The writer continues to explain how this is a cheap and easy method to transport a donor heart, but it’s also inefficient.

You may think that drinking, smoking pot, or doing coke make you more creative.

Luke Sullivan Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. Adweek media.

Funny and totally intriguing, the author goes onto explain why this is a common misnomer and a really bad idea for creative people who actually want to make money.

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No matter what business you’re in you have to sell your product to keep the doors open. If your audience doesn’t understand why they need your product, you will quickly go out of business.

Plain language helps your customers:

  • Find what they need
  • Understand what they find
  • Use what they find to meet their needs

Today, we are constantly bombarded with messaging. With the advancement in global communications using plain language is more important than ever to get your message to the right audience. Why? We market to a world of distracted scanners.

Whether you are writing copy for your website or sending off a proposal to a potential client you have to consider the amount of communication your reader receives everyday.

How can your message cut through the clutter and inspire your reader to act? Simple. Always tell your reader “what’s in it for them” and use a few plain language tricks.

The first rule to plain language: know your audience

Before you start writing you need to clearly identify your audience. What keeps them up at night? What is their problem? How can you offer a solution?

To help you get a clearer picture of your audience, grab a pen and paper and take 5 – 10 minutes to jot down the answers to these questions.

  • What form of communication am I using? Email, blog, ebook, newsletter, web copy or snail mail direct marketing letter.
  • Who is your audience? Be specific – don’t say everyone. It’s never everyone. Narrow your scope.

For example my audience is:

  • People who want to learn how to play guitar.
  • People who want to buy a new home between $150,000 to 300,000.
  • Females between the ages of 35 and 55 looking for the secret to youthful skin.
  • Mid-life professionals who want to start their own business.

What is the purpose of my piece? To inform, to sell, to inspire – what is the action I want my reader to take. (fill out a form, sign-up for a newsletter, purchase a product)

  • What do you need to say to get the desired outcome from your audience?
  • What’s the biggest benefit for your audience? What’s in it for them?

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No compulsion in the world is stronger than the urge to edit someone else’s document. 
H. G. Wells

Birthplace of Plain Language

Birthplace of Plain Language

The ROI of Plain Language

In the early 2000s, the Washington State Department of Revenue wrote a standard notice to business owners reminding them they could owe “use tax,” a tax on goods purchased out of state or through the internet.

The original notice was ignored by a whopping 97% of the people.

When the notice was rewritten in plain language the state exceeded its goal for “use tax” payments by more than $800,000.

How the government got involved.

During the 1970’s the Federal Government began asking their regulation writers to create less “bureaucratic” documents. The goal was to tone down the government speak and write in plain English so that people could easily understand how to fill out government forms.

Who were their first test subjects? Truck drivers.

“In 1977, the Federal Communications Commission issued rules for Citizens Band Radios that were written as a series of short questions and answers, with personal pronouns, sentences in the active voice, and clear instructions. These regulations were probably the first to appear entirely in plain English.”

“The Department of Education decided to fund a research and development contract to study the problems in public documents and get help for Federal agencies that wanted to implement plain language.”

Today, plain language is a national law for government agencies. The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to use “clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.”

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