Are You Writing With Clarity?

Clarity

If readers don’t understand what you write, you might as well have written nothing at all.

Ground-breaking ideas don’t count for much if you can’t express them clearly, and your incisive opinion won’t carry much weight if it can’t be followed.

Worthwhile writing should contain new, interesting and complex ideas. It should challenge the reader and, hopefully, resonate. To be effective, this kind of writing must be crystal clear.

In this post, I want to outline a few simple things you can do to make anything you write easier to understand.

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Six Common Punctuation Errors that
Bedevil Bloggers

Question Marks

Proofreading your text for misspelled words and grammatical mistakes is essential. What about the punctuation, though?

Despite being more subtle, these errors can equally hurt your credibility. I’m going to point out six common punctuation errors that you shouldn’t be making, and give you examples so you’re sure about the right way to handle these situations.

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No Really… Thanks Google!

Well, apparently Copyblogger’s Page Rank will not be dropping from 6 to 4, and is instead showing as 7 across 39 of 45 datacenters. Even though it likely means nothing from a practical standpoint, it’s nice to have my name cleared.

I didn’t have anything to do with talking to Google, as I was way too busy with Teaching Sells. But here’s what I was told about discussions between b5media and a Google representative.

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Landing Page Makeover Clinic #7: Mindmap-Ebook.com

Landing Page Makeover

Today’s makeover is for Chuck Frey’s ebook, Mind-Mapping Software: How to Select the Perfect Program for Your Needs. Chuck lives and breathes this stuff. He’s the Mind-Mapping “Man” but he’s been struggling getting a handle on his target market. (In fact, this is the second ebook effort I’ve reviewed. The first, I thought, needed an entire marketing plan “re-think”, hence the quick side-step to a project that lent itself to this format far better.

Chuck actually has some pretty good marketing language throughout this page. Unfortunately, it’s buried under ho-hum heads and subheads. You’ll see what I mean when you take a look at the current page.

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Teaching Sells is Live

Teaching Sells Logo

After much work and not much sleep, the Teaching Sells training program is open for business. Hopefully the combination of the free report and the site copy will stand on its own, but I thought I’d take a moment to address some of the questions I got in comments and emails.

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Thanks Google!

Imaginary conversation going on in the blogosphere right now:

Dude 1: “Hey man, did you hear that Google lowered the Page Rank on a bunch of popular blogs?”

Dude 2: “Yeah, I did… Engadget, ProBlogger, Copyblogger…

Dude 1: “What’s up with that? Copyblogger? That guy has never bought or sold a link!”

Dude 2: “I know. As far as I know, he’s done nothing but put out valuable, original content like Google says to do.”

Dude 1: “Yeah… he even preaches about writing for people first.”

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Clever vs. Descriptive Headlines:
Which Works Better?

Manga in Wired

I have a confession.

I absolutely love clever word play.

Puns, turns of phrases, neologisms, Spoonerisms, etc… I love them all.

I just don’t use them in headlines.

Browsing through the latest issue of Wired (yes, the actual paper magazine!), I noticed the title of the feature article by Dan Pink on Manga, the Japanese illustration style for comics.

Japan, Ink.

Now that’s a really clever title. The use of a homonym to make reference to the corporate dominance Japan enjoyed in the 1980s in the context of Manga made me smile. And I would expect no less from Mr. Pink.

But you wouldn’t want to use that as an attraction headline on the cover. And that’s why Wired didn’t.

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Radiohead, The 4-Hour Work Week and the Importance of Raving Fans

Building your fan club

What do Thom Yorke, Tim Ferriss and successful new media publishers have in common?

It’s not just that they understand that smart marketing is about relationships more than quick one-time sales.

And it’s not just that they know it’s not just any relationship they want, but loyal, raving fans.

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Free Report: Teaching Sells

Teaching Sells

So, I’ve been promising that I’d release a free report this week, and I actually got it done. There’s even an audio version, should you be so inclined.

Anyway, I’ll let the download page give you the details, but if you’ve ever wondered what NASA, Russian cosmonauts, the film industry in the 1940s, Marshall McLuhan and the Sex Pistols have to do with online business….

Well, you’re going to want to read this.

The Butterfly Effect and the Environment: How Tiny Actions Can Save the World

Blog Action Day

This post is my contribution to Blog Action Day, joining thousands of other bloggers to write about one topic for a single day. This year’s topic is the environment.

The acre of land my family and I live on rests on a heavily-wooded elevation, which provides a panoramic view of a sparkling lake to the south. It’s quite a departure from the suburban tract home I grew up in, and I’m hoping my kids end up with fond childhood memories of frolicking in a beautiful natural setting.

One remarkable thing about the property is the amount of butterflies it attracts, no doubt due to the variety of plant species that are permitted to grow undisturbed. My 5-year-old daughter and her little brother spend large chunks of time hopelessly chasing after scores of Monarchs and other brightly-colored, flitting butterflies.

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