Wednesday, May 13, 2009

1. How to fix your lousy writing ... and why you should

By Allan Gardyne

When I left school, the first job I got was as a cadet reporter for a small daily newspaper, in Oamaru, New Zealand.

In those days, the entire editorial office, in one small, scruffy room, consisted of the editor, a sub-editor/reporter, a photographer/reporter, a proof reader and me. With a team that small, everyone had to be adaptable.

Occasionally, the editor would give me a few writing tips, such as, "Imagine you're talking to ONE person," or "How many of our readers CARE about this?"

However, most of the time he was too busy to teach me, so I learned to teach myself.

During the day, I'd pound out articles. Each night, I'd go home and re-read my articles in the newspaper.

I was often appalled and embarrassed to see how sloppily worded they were. It's odd how errors can jump out at you a few hours later - mistakes that your eyes skimmed over at the time.

Apparently, the editor was in too much of a hurry to edit my articles properly.

So I had to learn to fix them myself.

Gradually, I developed a simple, reasonably clear writing style. I don't claim to be a brilliant writer. I'm good enough to get the job done.

Why is this important to you?

Because affiliate marketing is all about making a connection between you and your reader.

You don't have to be a brilliant writer to succeed in affiliate marketing, but you do need to be good enough to get your point across, to communicate clearly.

If English is your second language, this is even more important for you.

Here are 10 things I've learned that will improve your writing, help you communicate more clearly, and sell more stuff...

  • Get rid of distractions. Find a quiet spot to do your writing. Turn off the radio, TV and music. You may think you can do two things at once, but what you're actually doing is switching from one to the other.
  • Don't stop. Bash it out, no matter how rough it is. Keep going all the way until it's finished. Only then is it time to go back and tidy it up. Resist the urge to edit as you go. Editing as you go interrupts the creative flow. Your article is likely to take 10 times as long to do if you edit as you go.
  • Write simply. Your readers are in a hurry. They don't want to waste time trying to figure out what you mean.
  • Tell a story. Stories get your readers involved. (For heaven's sake, make them TRUE stories. I'm delighted to hear the FTC is cracking down on some of the fake stuff out there. If you don't have a good story to tell, interview someone who has.)
  • See things from your reader's point of view. Keep asking yourself, "What do they want to know?"
  • Read it aloud. This makes it easier to spot awkward patches where the words don't flow smoothly.
  • Edit later. Put your writing aside and re-read it hours or, better still, days later. It's amazing how you see your article with fresh eyes and spot ways to improve it.
  • Read more. To improve your writing, turn off the TV and read books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters - anything. The more you read, the more you'll recognize good writing when you see it.
  • Practice. One of the best ways to learn to write is to WRITE. When you learn a skill, you create new neurons and new pathways in your brain. The section of your brain used for writing will expand. If you don't believe me, read "The Brain That Changes Itself" by Norman Doidge. Good libraries should have it.

Write something every day.

For example...

a) Keep a journal of your ideas and plans. It will help your business as well as your writing skills.

b) Go to our affiliate forum - - and write something there every day. Keep writing. You WILL improve.

c) Write an article every day - either for your website or to publish on a related website. Don't worry about making it perfect. Just do it.

* Don't be a perfectionist. Resist the urge. Instead of aiming for an A+ job, aim for a B+. Write it quickly. Get it done.

You'll be pleasantly surprised how much faster you work and how much more you achieve. Upload it to your site, even it's not perfect.

Look at people you know who are making big sales in affiliate marketing. Do you think they're perfectionists? Not likely. They're good at getting the job done.

Get your stuff online so that it can attract traffic and make sales. You can always go back and improve it another day. But get it online. It won't make money for you if it's sitting unpublished on your hard drive - or still in rough notes somewhere.

Remember, clear communication is right at the heart of all successful marketing. So time spent improving your writing is an excellent investment.

In the meantime, you can go to places like Elance and hire a writer. If you've tried that, you'll know it's very time consuming trying to find a GOOD writer.

A quicker, easier option is to buy unique articles from our writing service.

In collaboration with affiliate coach Dan Ho, we provide a solid, reliable writing service, Content Kingdom - - whose writers will write original, unique articles for you.

If you're a perfectionist, you can improve the articles you buy and add your own personality to them. Most affiliates are pleased with the articles just the way they come.

You don't earn commissions until you get things done.

Buying articles is a way of getting things done faster.

"Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up." - Jane Yolen.

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