Blog: Content writing and content strategy insights

November 09, 2016


Are you one of life's success stories? Here's how I found success right under my nose!

Successful writing careers start with best writing training at Contented: image creative commons

Last week I went to a marketing seminar. The session was led by really enthusiastic sales and marketing experts with high impact careers.

But rather than feel really boosted by the hyped-up energy in the room, I came away thinking that we are always fed the same vision of success – the vision that we should all aspire to building a global empire — a mega-brand, being self-made multi-millionaires and being at the top of our chosen game — no matter the personal cost to our health and our relationships. 'More is better' grips our psyche. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-capitalism. I just think we need to broaden our definition of success. A broader definition that allows us to give ourselves credit for what we have achieved, to show gratitude for our lives as they are right now and feel successful against more meaningful measures.

A narrow capitalistic or competitive version of success makes people feel like they will never ‘arrive’ and are never good enough and will never experience ultimate success. It’s the feeling you get when you set out to climb a mountain. And each time, you think you’re about to reach the top, you discover there’s another slope to climb and the top is in the distance just out of reach. So you keep on climbing, often without stopping to drink in the view, and often without giving yourself a pat on the back for coming so far.

Yet I’m sure people who have made it to the so-called ‘top’, are usually very clear about what is important to them – and it is usually health, well-being and having good relationships with the people they care about.

So that day after the seminar, I sat down and wrote the 10 things that are most important to me — basically what my personal version of success looks like. I wrote:

  1. Spending rewarding time with my family
  2. Growing happy, confidant kids
  3. Being healthy and experiencing real work-life balance
  4. Being stimulated mentally
  5. Being respected for what I do
  6. Being financially independent
  7. Having genuine friends
  8. Exploring new cultures and places
  9. Being valued in my communities
  10. Being brave when it counts.

What struck me is it had nothing to do with working long hours or making millions. And it had everything to do with meaningful and genuine connections with myself, my family and my wider communities. And what also struck me is that I enjoy most of these things most days in my life already. So in that moment I realized, I can grant myself the pleasure of feeling successful in my eyes – not waiting for other people’s approval or aspiring to someone else's version of success.

So now I invite you to do the same: write down the 10 things that are truly most important to you. You may come to see that you are already successful and living your dream life — without taking another step up 'that' mountain. I'd love to hear what your version of success looks like, if you feel like sharing.

Here’s to real success.

The simple governance strategy that will help web teams succeed

If you've worked on a fairly large web project, the story in this blog post will be all too familiar. It's the terrible tale of why web teams struggle time and time again to get content ready.

Look at your governance structure and you'll find some clues. One person in your company can make a big difference to the web team's content crusade. The answer is surprising to many: the CEO. I'll explain why. And I suggest four simple things your CEO can do to help your web team achieve its goal of going live with great digital content. 

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Nine digital content skills that open up many job opportunities

People who know how to write well for digital media — websites, intranets, social media, blogs, e-newsletters — have amazing career opportunities.

Today when you write for work, you need to understand 'digital'. Digital technology is a game-changer for writers and communicators.

People who write for work must know how to:

  1. attract online readers
  2. improve search rankings
  3. use metadata and keywords
  4. follow web standards
  5. use a content management system properly
  6. write for mobile devices
  7. write plain English
  8. write for Google Translate
  9. publish on multiple channels.

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    The careers of five best friends begin to merge in a digital workforce

    When I grew up I had four besties. Together we were just like Blyton’s Famous Five. Sure, we didn’t roam the countryside solving mysteries and capturing villains. Golly gosh no! But we did freely roam our cul-de-sac for hours enjoying jolly adventures — at least until dinner time.

    After university, we all dispersed into very different jobs — one into journalism, one into strategic planning, one into advertising, one into corporate comms, and I moved from solicitor to information designer.

    But in the last five years or so, something funny has happened: all our job descriptions are starting to look the same. Disciplines are merging. My friends and I are doing similar tasks and use the same skillsets.

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    User testing your web content leads to happiness

    One of the UXNZ 2015 Conference highlights for me was the opening speech by legend US information architect and publisher, Lou Rosenfeld. He talked about how he came up with the design and layout for the books his company publishes. Quite simply, he took his books out and tested them with real people. He wanted to learn whether he could make an age-old product like a hardcopy book easier to use. Turns out you can.

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    Grammar: If I were the only editor in the world

    Rachel answers an age-old grammar question about was and were. Old grammar rules stick in our minds like chewing gum in the hair. The rule you remember is no longer a rule (perhaps it never was) but a choice. Rachel tends to use ‘were’ out of habit, but 'was' is now more than acceptable—it’s the norm.

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    Writing tip: Editing web content

    Editing is always a step-by-step process. And always you start by asking the big questions, such as:

    • Is this web page really necessary?
    • What is this page for? 
    • Who needs it?
    • Is the same information on another page?
    • What do you want people to do after reading this page?
    At work when the pressure’s on, what do you do? You apply the 80:20 principle: you skip to a simple Contented system that will fix the majority of problems very fast.

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