I’m actually going to skip boring you with the details of my weekend. They’re not exciting. You should know that already, because I’m blogging on a Saturday night. The truth is, I had to check the calendar on my laptop to verify that it was, indeed, Saturday. Say no more, right?
During the past few days, I’ve spent some time with a couple of the stories set to release during our catalog launch in April. Formatting them. Reevaluating placements for artwork. Proofreading. Again. And working on some synopses that (hopefully) will make you all KILL to read them.
Because you’d kill for a good story, right?
It seems like these stories have been in the illustrators’ hands forever, but that’s just my impatient inner enthusiast talking out of turn. And needless to say, this artwork was worth the wait. I’m super happy with the way everything turned out, which is getting me geared up for all things emotobook.
And all things blog. Like this one. And like the several other ones I run. But especially this one. It needs a makeover. Maybe just something subtle. I… don’t know yet. BUT one thing this blog definitely needs is a better blogroll. I have this crappy list of links on the left sidebar that I haven’t updated in years.
For a while, I was visiting over 100 blogs. I didn’t have time to give everything my full attention, of course, but I wanted everyone I knew to discover these resourceful sites and network with all these people- these fellow writers and creative souls. But having long lists like that is a huge turn-off.
If every blog had a button, I’d snag them all instead. Not a hundred of them. Maybe ten. But maybe I could create a page for other blogs and include whatever photos or logos I can for them. My question is, what would you like to see? What kind of presentation would make you most likely to check out those links?
I’ve learned so much about blogging just from doing it and from reading other people’s blogs over the years. I’ve read countless articles on how to blog successfully and I’ve helped people set up their blogs and websites. I’ve taken document and web design classes. This is very obviously not apparent by looking at this particular blog, but I do know something about this stuff. Not the technical stuff, but the other happy nontechnical stuff.
Tomorrow I’m supposed to help a friend create a blog. I figured I’d show him some of mine so he can see different styles and layouts on different hosts. But as I’m texting him, giving him solid tips for blogging success, I realize I don’t follow most of it. At all.
So the first thing I need to do is try some kind of schedule so I’m not posting so erratically, start posting some more substantial stuff, and then maybe attempt some kind of organization.
Any suggestions about organization or content?
Mistakes in spelling, grammar, and sentence structure irk me. There is, of course, no one right way to write; that would be boring and the craft of writing would consequently become obsolete. But come on… there is an obvious line that you should not cross when you are publishing content. This applies to professional content more than anything else, so is it any wonder that I’m peeved when I’m expected to trust a source that cannot even use commas appropriately?
I’ve subscribed to all kinds of newsletters about children’s health. Among these publications is a newsletter from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia… a hospital, by the way, with a nationally recognized superior reputation. The content is geared towards the average reader; it is simple, direct, and brief. It is also reviewed by a doctor before it gets distributed. Within its brevity, however, lies a hefty handful of negligence. I found several mistakes in the most recent edition, which initially made me wonder who they’d hired to write, edit, and proofread their newsletter. Who are these people who get these jobs and botch them?
After ranting about this to my husband, he showed me a line in a book that reads “his left left” where it should obviously read “his left leg.” Despite this error, the book is one he is enjoying so I won’t bash it by name. His comment resonates with me, though: “Errors like this make me think that a computer program edited this book.” Yes, I love you SpellCheck, but you cannot replace the traditional proofreading process.
The point is simple. Our writing always represents something, whether it is ourselves, our business, or a greater organization. In cases like the Children’s Hospital newsletter, poor writing can discredit a lot of otherwise genuine effort. I think that, especially in other fields, writing takes a backseat to simply distributing information. I feel similarly disappointed when I visit a reputable company’s poorly designed website. Sure, I can probably find the information I’m seeking, but would it kill the designer to improve the layout so it looked a bit more professional? It’s not all about appearance, either. Better layout leads to improved usability. Likewise, a professionally written newsletter can only improve the reputation of the hospital whereas a poorly written one can do more damage than most people probably realize.
Take the time to look at what you’re about to publish. And if you can’t spot the errors, hire someone who can. Your credibility is at stake. It is a worthwhile investment.
© Alexis Jenny, 2011.
- Don’t Forget: Bad Writing Reflects Poorly on Your Brand Too (blogs.constantcontact.com)
- 10 Effective Tips for Proofreading (thebloggersbulletin.org)