Why “Blog” and “Glob” are Antigrams

blog/glob

When most people talk of anagrams, the Book of Random Oddities explains, they mean words that can have their letters rearranged to make other words, such as “bat” and “tab”. In the world of recreational wordplay, though, an anagram is a rearrangement of the letters in a word, phrase, or sentence to make a new word, phrase, or sentence that refers to or defines the original in some way.” The authors offer a few examples:

  • dormitory/ dirty room
  • greyhound/ “Hey, dog – run!”
  •  angered/ enraged
  • the eyes/ they see
  • snooze alarms/ alas, no more z’s

Antigrams unlike anagrams, the authors explain, “beg to differ”.  Antigrams are phrases that can be anagrammed into something that means or implies its opposite. Examples include:

  •  funeral/ real fun
  •  filled/ ill-fed
  • astronomers/ no more stars

As a blog content writer and trainer, I couldn’t help adding one to the list:  blog/ glob.

One message per post is the mantra I pass on to newbie Indianapolis blog writers.  Each post, I teach in corporate blogging training sessions, should contain a razor-sharp focus on just one story, one idea, one aspect of the business or practice. “Stuffing” too much content in a blog creates a “glob” that strains readers’ attention span.

The focus of a single blog post might be:

  • Busting one myth common among consumers
  • One testimonial from a user of your product or service
  • One special application for your product
  • One common problem your service helps solve
  • One new development in your industry

On the other hand, a single business blog post can convey a sense of forward movement through linking to another page, or even by telling readers to watch for information on another product, service, or “how-to” in a coming blog post.

Don’t turn your blog into a glob!

 

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Words You Never Use in Blogging for Business

Never - word written in colorful chalk

“It’s more important than ever before to be mindful not just of what your company says to customers online, but HOW it is said as well,” asserts Jay Baer, author of Hug Your Haters. “Minor shifts in words choice can mean the difference between a great customer interaction and an unruly, offended mob.” There are three categories of potential trouble, Baer explains, when it comes to potential trouble:

  1. words that lack humility
  2. words that diminish the customer
  3. words of argument and avoidance

Baer’s words certainly apply to the work we do as business blog content writers, as we try to create great online interactions with customers and prospects.

One word Baer believes lacks humility is “our”. Bair thinks that word implies that the speaker (or writer, in this case) is speaking on behalf of the collective business.  “We” and “our” lack humanity and the personal touch, Baer says, advising customer service people to use “I” and “me”.

When it comes to business blog content writing, I don’t mind the word “our”, because it’s part of first person writing. I’ve always preferred first and second person writing in business blog posts over third person “reporting”, because I believe people tend to buy when they see themselves in the picture and when they can relate emotionally to the person bringing them the message.

I absolutely agree that the customer or prospect must never feel diminished. While mythbusting is one important function business blog posts can serve, writers should never imply that readers are unable to fully grasp the information or that they have been easily misled in the past. “The word “misunderstanding”, Baer says, is often used as a polite way of saying “you didn’t listen or read well enough.”

Addressing misinformation in a company’s blog shines light on the owner’s special expertise, besides offering information that is valuable to readers. Still, a certain level of anger might arise at having one’s beliefs challenged, so it’s important to throw readers a “bone” by offering some intriguing information that nobody could reasonably have been expected to know. The customer, as Baer explains, may have been completely wrong, but “proving” that is no way to win a friend.

Words to never use in blogs are words that boast, diminish, argue, and avoid!

 

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Don’t Let Your Blog Leave the Wrong “Effect”

OOPS! card with colorful background with defocused lights

“For all the changes to the algorithm Google goes through,” a blog content writer recently assured readers, “only a handful are significant and will effect your ranking – if even that.” Uh-oh – didn’t you mean “affect your ranking”?

The verb “effect” means “to cause to come into being” or “to bring about. “When you are tempted to use “effect” as a verb, ask yourself if the phrase ‘bring about’ makes sense in its place,” explains getitwriteonline.

“Effect” was the wrong verb, but several other excerpts from that same multi-contributor advice blog demonstrated the use of the wrong pronoun:

  1. No one is going to trust you to deliver quality products and services if your company can’t even manage their own public image. “Company” is singular; the text should read “can’t even manage its own public image”.

  2. Once you understand who your customer is, it is easier to define in a few simple sentences what makes your company uniquely qualified to solve their problem. “Customer” is singular. This should read “his/her problem”.

  3. Any professional worth their salt has an account on LinkedIn, which in essence is an online resume. Any professional is singular; “worth his/her salt” would be correct.  If this is awkward, change the subject to “professionals”.

  4. Ask a designer why they are so enamored of ampersands and they may get a few words in before muttering they don’t know why. A designer is so enamored.

But, hey, does it really matter, you may ask? Readers probably understood what those bloggers meant to say, and perhaps none even caught the blog writers’ mistaken word choices.

Everyone who knows me at all well is familiar with my near-maniacal preoccupation with proper language usage. Informal and conversational as business blog writing might be, I constantly stress to  business blog content writers – or those providing business blogging services – how important it is to check for “spinach-in-the-teeth” bloopers in their content.

Christina Wang of Shutterstock.com  agrees with me that it’s important to pay attention to grammar.. “No matter where you work or what you do, everyone needs to know how to write effectively for business these days,” she says.

Don’t let your blog leave the wrong effect!

 

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In a Blog, is Someone One or Two?

One Plus One

“Beware of common grammatical mistakes, like subject-verb agreement,” cautions Helen Coster in Forbes. Rule to remember:  The number of the subject determines the number of the verb.

Use a singular verb form after:

  • Nobody
  • Someone
  • Everybody
  • Neither
  • Everyone
  • Each
  • Either

“We can agree that a verb agrees with its subject in person and number,” The Lousy Writer reminds us.  Examples include:

  • “No one except the ticket holders is admitted.”
  • “Every one of us is anxious to build a business.”
  • “The famous museum with its thousands of artifacts was destroyed.” (There is only one museum.)

What’s more, The Lousy Writer explains, the meaning rather than the form of the subject controls the number of the verb.

  • “The movie ’The Godfather’ was directed by Francis Ford Coppola.” (There is only one movie.)
  • “Fifty dollars is too much for those sneakers.”  (There is one sum of fifty dollars.)
  • “The committee is ready to boycott.” (The committee consists of several persons, but we refer to it here as one group.)

Using plurals and singulars can get quite tricky, Learner’s Dictionary authors admit, especially when a sentence has more than one subject per verb. Here are three examples:

  • (two singular) The dog and the cat bother me. (bother is a plural verb)
  • (two plural): The dogs and the cats bother me.
  • (one singular, one plural) The dog and cats bother me.

In blog content writing, of course, the idea is to avoid confusing the reader and get the point across. Avoiding common grammatical mistakes and making subjects agree with verbs is one healthy habit we content writers can cultivate.

Remember: the number of the subject determines the number of the verb!

 

 

 

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If You Could Use Proper Grammar and Spelling, That’d Be “Grate”

proper grammar in blogs

Kimberly Joki, in her grammarly blog, lists some of the “worst writing mistakes you can make at work.” Even if you are someone who isn’t bothered by a misplaced comma, she says, there will inevitably be coworkers and clients who will notice and who will judge your quality of work by your mistakes, she points out, adding the advice to “Be smarter than you were in primary school.”

Joki offers a list of pairs and triplets which are often mixed up:

  • There/ they’re/ their (“They’re” means “they are”. “There” refers to a place. “Their” refers to something owned by more than one person.)
  • Your/ you’re (The difference, Joki explains, is that “Your” talks about you owning something, while “you’re” talks about you being something.)
  • Effect/ affect (When you’re talking about the change itself, use “effect”; When you’re talking about the act of changing, describe how that thing “affects” you.)
  • Between/ among (“Between” refers to two entities sharing something, “among” to three or more sharing something.)

Christina Wang of Shutterstock.com agrees. “No matter where you work or what you do, everyone needs to know how to write effectively for business these days,” she says.  “And yes,” she adds, “that includes paying attention to grammar.”

Wang’s no-no list includes a couple of others:

  • Using “I” instead of “me”.  Don’t say “Thanks for meeting Steven and I for lunch yesterday.”  (It should be “Steven and me”.
  • Using unnecessary apostrophes.  “That company’s presentation is full of great idea’s.” (Apostrophes show possession, not plural.)  “You’ll love it’s strategy.” (“It’s” means “it is”’ “its” is a pronoun.)

As blog content writers, if we could use proper grammar and spelling, that’d be just g-r-e-a-t!

 

 

 

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Cutting Blog Words Down to Size

L National Geographic Kids collects quirky, fun facts, and this week’s Say It For You blog posts are based on some of these.

I’ll bet you didn’t know this one: There is a hill in New Zealand named Raumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakotanatahu. (Really?)

That’s enough to inspire hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (fear of long words) in any business blog content writer, I’d say, certainly enough to bring on didaskaleinophobia (fear of going to school – or at least of participating in the class spelling bee).

“Should you use long words?” asks Emphasis. The answer: “Writing guides generally agree that short words are preferable. Many take their cue from traditional authorities such as the Fowler brothers, who on page one of their influential The King’s English (1906) told readers:  ‘Prefer the short word to the long.’  In fact, advises Emphasis, “using unnecessarily fancy phrasing is a reliable way to alienate readers. It makes prose puffed-up and heavy, so that reading it becomes a chore instead of a pleasure.”

Bloggers, believe it! There is actually a government department devoted to spreading the use of shorter, plainer language. Yes, really! Their web address is called plainlanguage.gov! The introductory paragraph sounds is if it was composed by someone with a sense of humor combined with realism: “Vocabulary choice is an important part of communicating clearly. While there is no problem with being express, most federal writing has no place for literary flair. People do not curl up in front of the first with a nice federal regulation to have a relaxing read.“

Now that I’ve discovered this website, I plan forevermore to train corporate blog writers to use the example given in the PL Guidelines section:

Poor: There is no escaping the fact that it is considered very important to note that a number of various available applicable studies ipso facto have generally identified the fact that additional appropriate nocturnal employment could usually keep juvenile adolescents off thoroughfares during the night hours, including but not limited to the time prior to midnight on weeknights and/or 2 a.m. on weekends.

Good: More night jobs would keep youths off the streets.

 

Think about it: How can you say more with less in your business blog?

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Words That Help or Hurt a Resume or Blog

resumeAccording to a 2014 CareerBuilder survey, 68% of hiring managers spend less than two minutes reviewing a resume, so it had better be filled with words they care to see, warns Debra Auerbach.

Boy, I couldn’t help thinking, is that ever true for blog content writing as well! In fact, according to Site Meter, the average reader spends just 96 seconds reading a blog.

Exactly what sort of words make employers cringe?  Words and terms that are vague, passive, and clichéd.  Employers would much rather see strong action words that highlight specific accomplishments.  Don’t use “I am” phrases, suggests Carina Chivulescu, director of human capital at The Expert Institute. Chivulescu prefers to see “I did” phrases, which tell her exactly what you were doing to bring value to previous employers.

Suggested action words include:

  • Achieved
  • Improved
  • Trained
  • Managed
  • Created
  • Resolved

Unfortunately, as a blog content writing trainer, I see a lot of the same sort of “fluffy stuff” on corporate blogs as Chivulescu sees on resumes, including

  • Best of breed (what does that even mean?)
  • Value added
  • Results-driven
  • Team player
  • Excellent customer service
  • Bottom-line oriented

“Instead of speaking in plain English, they (marketers) fill their conversations with overused jargon and buzzwords,” Carmine Gallow complains in Forbes.

Chivulescu sums it up neatly: “Employers (you may substitute ‘blog readers’) want to see words and phrases that clearly and succinctly define your skills, experience, and accomplishments.”

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