Monthly Archives: May 2016

Who Can Help Me With Content Analysis

If you are experiencing problems with your content and are in desperate need of an expert content analysis report, how do you know which company to use?

Choosing a business, or consultant to conduct a content analysis can be a daunting prospect, particularly if you have not engaged in one previously. While many businesses may claim to be masters, there are a number of different aspects to take into account before choosing one.

Following our tips will hopefully allow you choose the perfect company in order to solve your content problems and ensure that a useful and easily understood content analysis report proves helpful for your business.

Recommendations

The best type of recommendations to receive are ones from trusted friends, peers or other associates, but these can also be the hardest to come across. The chances of knowing someone who has also gone through a similar content analysis as you require, is potentially quite slim, depending on the circles of people with which you associate.

The second best alternative is to contact a previous customer directly, or to read up on their reviews and testimonials. There are a number of ways that you can go about this and by searching online you should be able to find some user reviews fairly easily.

If you are unable to find any reviews for the company, then this should set alarm bells off in your head. While it may be that this particular company is new and therefore has no online reviews, you should do further research before dealing with them.

Experience

Experience is key when it comes to content analysis. Ensuring that the company you choose not only has solid general analysis experience, but also has knowledge in your particular sector, is a very smart and recommended move.

A successful content analysis is performed by a company that will usually have a vast background of experience in the sector. There are a number of different methods and areas of expertise, with some focusing on one type of content, such as web content, while others will specialize in a different area, such as technical writing.

Consultation

As a rule of thumb, you should not pay for content analysis upfront without any initial consultation, as you should make use of the companies which offer a free one.

A successful, professional and leading company will want to show you just what they can offer, so be wary of any business that is unwilling to consult on your needs without receiving payment first.

Value for money

The last aspect to consider when looking for a business to perform an analysis, is to weigh up the cost versus the value of work. It is a smart tip to not just choose the cheapest option, as ensuring that the task is completed correctly and comprehensively is far more important than spending less and ending up with a poor content analysis.

How to Evaluate Candidates for Technical Writing Jobs

If you need to hire a technical writer for an upcoming project, you will likely find that you have plenty of qualified candidates to consider. There are now a variety of sources through which you can find great writers, so locating people for the job should not be a problem. The challenge, however, comes when you start to work on narrowing down that initial list. In order to pick the right person for the job, you are going to need to go into the process with a clear picture of the knowledge and experience that needs to be possessed by the winning contractor.

Focus on the Writing

It might sound obvious, but the first thing you should look for is someone who can write quality content. Believe it or not, many businesses miss on this point when hiring a technical writer. A common mistake is placing importance on experience in the specific field above the ability to write. For instance, if you are hiring a writer for an engineering-related project, it will be tempting to pick the candidate with the strongest background in that field. However, if that person isn’t a great writer, you will be wasting your time and money. You already have people with engineering knowledge in your company – you need to hire someone who can bring writing skills to the table. Content can always be edited as necessary to correct technical mistakes related to the field in question – it is much more difficult to revise the style or quality of writing as a whole.

Find Experience

For technical writers, experience provides them with the ability to ask the right questions. Asking questions is a big part of being a good writer, because those questions help point the content in the right direction. If you can hire a writer with many years of experience working for a variety of clients, they will already have the knowledge necessary to ask smart questions. Also, experience is the only way to hone the craft of writing, so someone who is just getting started in this field likely won’t be able to offer you the same quality as a long-standing professional writer.

Samples, Of Course

One of the first things you should do is review writing samples from all of your candidates. Ask each potential hire to submit two or three writing samples. Hopefully, these will be pieces that are at least someone relevant to the project that you are needing to have completed. If a writer can’t offer you at least a couple of good samples, it should raise a red flag that perhaps they are not the right person for the job.

Offer a Fair Rate

You don’t always ‘get what you pay for’ in life, but you usually do when it comes to writing. If a specific writer is offering to do the work for far less than everyone else you are considering, there is probably a reason they are willing to work for cents on the dollar. Good writers know that they are worth the money, so they stand firmly by their rates. Do a quick evaluation of the market and set a budget that will allow you to hire a quality, experienced technical writer.

Check References

Finally, it is always good hiring practice to contact at least one or two references to learn a little more about the individual in question. Did they do good work for their previous clients or employers? What kind of work did they excel with, and does their writing ability have any weaknesses? Asking a couple of pointed questions should get you all of the information that you need to make a great decision.

How to Create an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

Are you looking to design and implement a new content marketing strategy? Unsure where to start, or in need of assistance for your project? If so, then this article may be just the ticket.

When it comes to a core content marketing strategy, it can be split up into the four key components of substance, structure, workflow and governance. Now don’t switch off quite yet, as we will explain what each of these terms mean and how to combine them to build a successful content marketing strategy.

Substance

First up of the core terms is substance, which is fairly self-explanatory. The substance refers to the type of content that you require, such as the topics that you will address and the style of content.

One of the areas to research in substance is what messages you are trying to communicate to your audience. Is this information geared toward attracting their business, or simply to advise and assist? Determining this will help you shape your content, so that is an effective marketing or communication tool.

Structure

Next up is structure, which refers to how the content is organized, formatted and ultimately displayed. This is another term that can have a vastly different meaning, depending on the type of content you are creating.

If you are creating in-house communication among a team of employees, for example, then you may want to ensure that metadata and communication planning are included, allowing all users to access, edit and view the content as necessary.

Ensuring that the essential infrastructure is put in place will not only safeguard your content, but also make it far easier to access, collaborate and utilize.

Workflow

Thirdly in our content marketing strategy core principles is workflow, which includes the tools used and the process in which content is successfully produced. Designating the human resources that are needed for each type of content helps with ensuring that each user knows his task.

A good example of efficient workflow is splitting up your content into different areas and attributing a certain area to particular user or group, allowing them to have access and responsibility over everything in this sector. This allows a larger degree of accountability and helps to ensure that the quality is maintained and the content is effectively managed.

Governance

Lastly but certainly not least in our content marketing strategy foursome is the imposing area of governance. Having a wide ranging brief, governance refers to how the top level decisions of content marketing strategy are performed, along with how the various alterations are passed down through the lines of communication.

Without an efficient governance system the entire content marketing strategy is in jeopardy, as there becomes a vacuum of responsibility. Key decisions need to be made and communicated effectively, quickly and in an efficient manner.

By mastering the four principles detailed above, your content marketing strategy should put you in great shape for creating and maintaining high-quality content.

Five Ways Your Professional Credibility Is Diminished By Bad Writing

As a technical writer, your credibility is paramount. You know you must do whatever you need to to protect it. Hence the importance of ensuring your writing is appropriate to your readers, accurate, clear, and as easy as possible for your readers to follow your argument and come to the same conclusion.

Technical writing covers a wide range of activities: this article will particularly help report writers. Please bear in mind that this article is about writing traps, not the content.

Not surprisingly, the number one trap to avoid is plagiarism.

    1. Plagiarism, ‘the appropriation or imitation of another’s ideas and manner of expressing them, to be passed off as one’s own’, is never acceptable. It’s just not worth doing, and has consequences.
    1. Copyright infringement will tarnish your professional credibility and authority. Copyright, ‘the exclusive right, granted by law for a certain term of years, to make and dispose of copies of, and otherwise to control, a literary, musical, dramatic or artistic work’, protects creators from unauthorised copying of all or a substantial part of their work. Copyright laws differ between nations, so make sure you understand what the law in your country allows you to do. If you need to have permission from the author, do it – don’t just hope you’ll get away with it.
    1. Failure to acknowledge the sources of related material you’ve used will, at the very least, lessen the respect of your colleagues. And remember to check that your citations are correct, and written correctly – right down to the use of commas and full stops. Always refer to your style guide if you need to refresh your memory.
    1. Using generalisations can lead to readers questioning your authority. Phrases like ‘everyone knows’, ‘we all know’, ‘research suggests’ are best avoided as they can cause readers to wonder if you really do know what you’re saying.
  1. Lack of consideration of ease of reading can make the task of reading your technical information that much harder. Generally, your readers dislike (among other things) large chunks of text or overcrowding of the page; spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes; lots of words when a graph, table or illustration could tell your story more easily; lack of headings or other techniques (table of contents, bolding of key words, bullet or numbered lists) to guide them through your document; use of jargon or technical terms that aren’t adequately explained; lack of consistency in paragraph spacing, caption style, use of shortened forms, font selections, etc.

Having written your report, it’s time to check that you’ve not fallen into any of these traps. Reread, and, if necessary, rewrite, add missing citations, alter the layout. Ask a colleague to review it. Ask someone who’s not been involved with the project if they have any difficulties reading and understanding your report. Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation; review consistency.

And if you can afford it, hire an editor to give it its final polish.

Then be confident that your professionalism and credibility have not been lessened by your writing.

Definitions of ‘plagiarism’ and ‘copyright’ from The Macquarie Concise Dictionary, third edition, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1998.

Desolie Page, owner of Perfect Pages, is an accredited editor (Institute of Professional Editors, Australia) who specialises in editing and proofreading nonfiction writing.

I work with you to develop your unique voice, to understand your audience, to clarify your message, and to help you use clear, precise language to get your message across.