Article Directories and Promotion - UKcopy Copywriting and Corrections

Article Directories and Promotion

January 27th, 2011

There are now a slew of article directories on the web that will publish your articles either for free or a fee. The idea is that you write the copy and get to link back to your website in the byline. The site gets free content which can then generate advertising revenue or subscription fees for the paid directories.

In addition to standard article promotion like this the directories are also often used by affiliate marketers to drive people to their own ad laden sites or their affiliate adverts on sites like USfreeAds.com.

Content Aggregation

Lately a number of directories have begun cropping up that call themselves Content Aggregators. They not only publish text articles but also audio and video content as well. The real twist is that they offer a proportion of the advertising revenue to the author.

One of our Copywriters. James Elliot, has been trying out a couple of these services recently. You can read a few of his articles about guitar playing here:

All of these articles are on Wikinut.com. Why don’t you Sign up and give it a go too?

Copy For Sale

There are also a few sites that allow you to sell your articles to other website owners who are looking for content. www.Constant-Content.com is and good example. They require a high standard of written English along with quality content. Buyers are able to buy the articles on either an exclusive or non-exclusive basis.

So article writing has gone from a means to generate extra traffic to actually generating income directly. The jury is still out on which of the services are the best and whether they can produce a sustainable income for a writer but for the moment they are an interesting side project.

Why does speaking and writing English matter?

January 25th, 2011

This is a Guest Post by Aleks Ozolins BA

Do you speak or read English?

Silly question really – you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t read English.

English is the most widely spoken and understood language in the world with 43% of people speaking it fluently every day as a first or second language.

Many more people have some knowledge of English, whether from entertainment and news media, the Internet, business, or travel.

When you speak to someone they hear your voice, and see your expression and body language. Surprisingly only nine percent of your message is the words; the rest is sound and vision. When you write, the words are all you have to work with – content is everything. So when you write, the style needs to be compelling; the meaning of your words must be clear and relevant to your audience’s needs.

Sometimes when you write you want people to take note and be motivated to do something. Perhaps you’re asking them to buy a product or service, or to take social action. You could be writing detailed information to guide others. In all cases, your message must be clear and easily understood.

No matter how you learned to speak English, everyone one has to learn how to write it. You speak English daily, but mostly no one has criticised or corrected your writing since you left school or university. Whatever your level of competence, you may not have used the best choice of words, or there is an error of construction, style, spelling, or punctuation.

There are at least a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding technical words. Choosing the right word is a challenge. Spelling checkers are unreliable as they often substitute alternative spellings as you type. This is particularly true when British spellings differ from American ones. Further problems can arise from matters of idiom, cultural, and gender sensitivity, or knowledge of social customs.

A professional English correction service, where dedicated editors and proofreaders use their detailed and specialised knowledge, can help you produce the best work for your purpose. They can work with you at any point from design through first draft to the finished product. Everyone can also benefit from professional proofreading to find errors in their copy. When you proofread your own work, you see the words you intended to write, rather than the ones on the paper.

Roughly half a million new English books are published each year. Numbers of magazine articles are probably about the same. Google indexes around two billion new web pages in English every month. To attract, hold, and retain an audience in this mass of information, your words need to be clear, concise, and correct. Increasingly, time-poor and fickle audiences will turn away from anything they cannot understand and act on quickly. You can not let spelling or grammatical errors affect the flow of your message. The cost of a professional correction service is a small price to pay to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Then or than?

January 16th, 2011

A common mistake that I have been seeing lately is the use of ‘then’ when the writer should be using ‘than’. I’ll give you an example:

…I think it was more due to luck then any skill on my part!

I have mostly been seeing this on websites from the US but it’s not just in comments and forum posts. It is cropping up a lot on blogs and even in more professional pieces.

I have taken it as more evidence of people writing what they think they hear rather than what they are familiar with seeing written down. Reading is not as popular a pastime as it once was. People of all ages have so many other things to occupy their time with that even those of us that love reading don’t spend as much time doing it as we once did.

Reading acquaints us with accurate and conventional written English. It becomes a blueprint for us to copy in our own writing. However, today people are more often  exposed to the spoken word than the written word. A great deal read very little and when they do are only reading the brief jottings of others like themselves. The popularity of online social media websites like Twitter and Facebook only compound this.

Consequently some one who wishes to write may not be familiar with the written version of the word they want and go with what it sounds like. Also, being unfamiliar with how a word is spelled often means that people often mispronounce them too. Common mispronunciations abound but the one that springs to mind is ‘congratulations’. This is now often pronounced, usually by Americans, as ‘congraDulations’ or ‘congraJulations’.

Some of this can be put down to the constant evolution of language which is a perfectly natural process. However, the general tendency to make up spellings based on the perceived sound of the word can only be thought of as a backwards step. Common spellings and structure are there to make the process of communication easier. The brain recognises familiar words quickly and allows the reader to take in the meaning of a piece of writing with ease. Mis-spellings require extra time and effort to understand and makes the reading process harder.

I recently sat with an English teacher as she not only had to decipher children’s handwriting but decipher the meaning of their spellings. In one instance a child of 13 wrote a sentence containing no correct spellings other than 1 and 2 letter words. It was virtually impossible to mark this work because the teacher couldn’t even begin to understand what the child meant.

There is a trend to pedantically correct the spelling and grammar of others on the Internet regardless of whether the meaning is clear. This is usually unnecessary and often done for comedic purposes but some attempt needs to be made to maintain standards so that we can all continue to communicate freely.

Does nobody proof read anymore?

January 11th, 2011

There seems to be a severe lack of proof reading going on on the Internet. I see miss-spellings and grammar mistakes on a daily basis. Often this is due to the writer having to communicate in English to get his or her point across and it may not be their first language. On blogs I allow a bit of latitude too. A blog may be the endeavour of a professional writer but more often than not it is the musings of an ordinary person. Posts are written freely and quickly and published, warts and all.

However, what I see far too much of, in my opinion, is sloppy copy on professional sites. Often these are large multi-national affairs with plenty of staff (and budget) for a bit of checking. It is often simple things like plurals when there shouldn’t be any and vice versa. It’s not a deal breaker and, usually, the meaning is still clear but it is unprofessional.

If I’m going to trust a site with my online business I want to know that I can trust them to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. If they can’t manage that am I going to trust them to keep my credit card number and personal details secure? I don’t think so!

Reputation in business is everything but sometimes the smallest, seemingly unimportant, things can have a big impact. Customers react to subtle cues. They’re often unaware that they are doing it but they are heavily influenced in their feeling for a company or organisation by how that company or organisation presents themselves. We all judge a book by its cover whether we want to or not.

So, in short, you wouldn’t turn up to a job interview in shorts and a T-shirt so don’t do the equivalent on the web. Check everything twice and then get someone else, who hasn’t seen it before, to check it again.

[Edit: On proofing this I found 5 simple errors. I rest my case.]

9 suggestions for non-native speakers of English

August 8th, 2009

If English is your second language here’s a little advice for when you write it. English is the main language in use on the internet so if you’re writing online or for print publications here are a few things to consider.

1. Never use an automated online translator

Online translators are great for translating things back into your own language so that you can understand them. They aren’t fantastically accurate but they give you a good idea what the writer is trying to say. However, if you use it to translate your words into English the results may be misleading, insulting or just plain unprofessional. None of these will make you look good. Furthermore, you know what you were trying to say but you have no idea if that is what it does say.

2. Proof read carefully – then get someone else to do the same

Simple errors look bad and don’t inspire confidence but are easy to overlook when we read our own work. Our brains see what we think should be there and not what is there. Get someone else to read it and they will be better able to spot errors that you have missed.

3. Use short simple sentences.

There is less to go wrong in a short sentence and you are more likely to be understood. Remember, your readers wont all be native speakers and may struggle with complicated sentences. Also, this is in keeping with good web writing practice where the amount of text should be only 10% of what you would put in a printed document.

4. Use either US spellings or UK – not both

There are many words (like colour / color ) that are spelt differently in the UK from the US. There are also idiomatic phrases that are unique to one or the other. Don’t mix and match these words and phrases as it becomes confusing. Think about who your target audience is and choose spellings and idiom that are appropriate.

5.Be careful with numbers

Many European countries use the comma and period (point) in the opposite way to English speaking countries. For example one thousand would be 1.000 instead of 1,000. So, when writing in English be sure to separate the thousands with a comma and use a period for decimal places. E.g. 23,056.45.

6. Don’t try and translate idiomatic phrases from your own language directly

All languages have their own different idiomatic quirks. If you translate them directly at best you end up with something confusing and at worst you have something rude or insulting.

7. Be careful about the tone of your writing

Don’t use colloquial phrases, slang, street talk or culturally specific references in professional writing. It is easy to come across as ignorant, poorly educated or stupid instead of how you intended to appear.

8. Be extra specially careful of words that sound the same but are spelt differently

This is often a problem for people who hear and speak a language much more than they read it. Words like there, their and they’re all sound the same but have distinctly different meanings. Other examples include: two, to and too; yore, your, you’re and yaw; weave and we’ve; so, sew and sow. Again, if you use the wrong one you will be understood but look unprofessional.

9. Check agreements

Is the subject of the sentence singular or plural. We say I WAS going and not I WERE going. There ARE fifty people here not there IS fifty people here. Watch out for some of the tricky ones. The people ARE singing but the data IS correct.

Are you making the most of the web?

July 12th, 2009

It seems that everyone has a blog these days. It is a good way to provide information in an easy to read format and update it regularly.

If you haven’t got a blog then I sincerely recommend that you get one. There are many reasons why a blog is good for your search engine ranking but it is also invaluable for giving your business a human face. Customers dealing with you from other countries and cultures as well as those nearer home need a little reassurance that they are dealing with real people.

A blog helps you tell people things and explain things. What’s more, you don’t have to use the formal language that you might use in printed material to do it. Above all, it helps people to trust you.

So, what can UKcopy do to help? Well, we can offer our Web Editing service. From checking and correcting a single blog post to managing the whole process of your blog we can make it easier for you to communicate with confidence. You can be sure your message hasn’t been misunderstood and doesn’t appear unprofessional to your readers.

So, if you need us to check your blog for grammar, spelling or overall meaning please contact us for a quote and a free trial.

Get corrected!

July 8th, 2009

It is now fantastically easy to do business all over the world. It no longer requires a large company, expensive equipment and many staff. In fact and individual can do it for virtually nothing from their home computer using services like Ebay and Paypal.

Small businesses are also finding those and other services helpful to sell globally. Manufacturers are cutting out the middlemen and selling directly to the consumer via the internet.

However, the one stumbling block is still communication. English has become the de facto standard language on the internet and without an ability to speak it your options are limited. The web is awash with poor and confusing English as people attempt to express themselves. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how good your company is, how good your product is or how trustworthy you are because you will be judged on your language skills.

It is highly unfair but poor language use gives the appearance of being unprofessional and less capable. Customers are less likely to trust a company with a poorly written website. On the other hand, a well written website inspires confidence.

So even if your company just uses Ebay or your own simple website to sell products it is essential that you get the wording checked for grammar, spelling and suitability for your target customers or you could be losing business.

Here at UKcopy we are able to correct everything from a simple Ebay listing to an entire website. Contact us for a quote or a free trial.

Join the social media revolution!

June 22nd, 2009

Barak Obama has proved that to get anywhere these days you have to be using social media on the internet. The lines are now blurring between producers and consumers. In print media the publishers, copywriters and advertisers were clearly separate from the readers. The only medium of communication between the two was a letter to the publication which may or may not get read. If you were lucky it might get printed but only if it suited the purposes of the publication.

Producers used to have the power of money, resources and standing within an industry behind them. Without it you couldn’t hope to compete whereas now the great leveller of the web puts ordinary people up there next to the corporations, politicians and celebrities. Opinions can be supported or countered through comments, blog posts, videos, Tweets and any number of other methods.

I for one am excited by the freedom and democracy of the internet and the possibilities it offers to find new stories and ideas and to tell people about them in a way that captivates, stimulates and engages.

Hello internet, hello world and hello social media revolution. Sign us up, we’re ready to join in!

Malcolm Cameron