Words With Cam

Writing Experiments and Tangents

Your Brand Voice: Does It Pass the “No Shit” Test?

You believe in your business. It’s obvious to you that your brand offers something your competitors don’t. And you know that more of your prospective customers would agree—your current customers already do!—if you could just do a better job of connecting with them.

One of the first steps: defining a brand voice that speaks to your target audience and reflects what makes your brand special, valuable, and worth remembering.

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Need a New Website? Here’s the First Step Everyone Misses

You are 100% in business. After years of working your ass off and believing in your idea, even when you suspected you might have actually lost your mind, for real this time, you look around and realize that you’ve turned a corner. You’re pulling in steady revenue and even making a profit. You can finally turn your attention to the stuff you’ve always put off until later. Stuff like your website and your branding. And now you can actually afford to hire a pro to do it right.

Or maybe you worked really hard on your website when you first started out, writing all the copy yourself, asking friends and random acquaintances to weigh in on colors and domain names, and coercing your brother’s friend’s cousin to build it for you in exchange for a six-pack and a pizza. But it’s been a couple of years now. Your business has grown and evolved, and so have your tastes.

You need a new website.

You want it to be clean, modern, and well-designed. You want to update your colors and get a beautiful new logo. You want the site to reflect YOU and your brand. You want to wow people. And after you’ve done all of that, you can repurpose your existing copy, move it around and edit it a little to work with your new design. Or you can hire a copywriter to write some new headlines and product blurbs for a couple hundred dollars. You’ll figure it out when you get there.

[Insert record needle scratch]

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Content bubble burst

The Problem with Content Strategy

My very first job was as an editorial assistant for a tiny travel website start-up in New York City. I spent every day reviewing user-submitted travel reviews for submission guidelines compliance, editing for spelling, grammar, and readability (yes, really), and assigning each review a rating of 1-5 stars. On a good day, I could get through 500 reviews.

Sometime while I was I honing my copyediting skills to a razor-sharp point, our start-up was acquired by a large travel technology network to join forces with a major Internet travel agency. And that’s when things got interesting.

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Women and Content Strategy

How to Stop Doing Yoga on Hot Coals: Women and Content Strategy

In my last post, I talked about my qualms with the term “content strategy” and my fear that it limits us to a specific purview: one of “content” as a self-contained variable, when we know that content is actually everything a business communicates.

Here’s what I didn’t say: I think part of our difficulty in overcoming this limitation and owning our real value is that the majority of us are women, too.*

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What is content?

Why Content Strategy is Like Opening a Restaurant

Everyone loves a good metaphor. When you find the right one, it can lift away obscurity in one graceful move, revealing such crystal clarity that you never forget it—and the topic at hand never feels complicated again. Since “content” and “content strategy” are two such juicy, complex concepts, I picked a great field for metaphor-wielding. (And I intend to take full advantage.)

So let’s have some fun with content metaphors, shall we?

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What I’ve Learned from Running

The most nervous I’ve ever been in my life was before my junior high track meets. I’m not kidding. I’ve done a fair amount of public speaking (and actually forgot a speech on stage once), weathered some tough job interviews, and moved across the country more than once to places where I didn’t know a single person. Nothing comes close to those track meets.

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Confab London 2013: Life Lessons on Content Strategy

Why am I here? What does it all mean? What’s the point? These are the questions life is made of, whatever shape the object happens to take at the time—a job, a city, a relationship, a Dairy Queen Hungr-Buster at 2am (don’t look at me like that—we’ve all been there). They also happen to be exactly the questions we should be asking of our content.

This parallel struck me during the first day of Confab London, the international manifestation of Brain Traffic’s content strategy conference. And once it did, I couldn’t stop seeing it.

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On The Bachelor and Being an Introvert

“She’s just not a very engaging person.”

So spake Lesley M. on a recent episode of The Bachelor, explaining why all the “ladies” disliked this season’s resident villainess, the unfortunately named Tierra. I didn’t watch enough of this, the 17th and most dramatic season ever, to offer a more compelling reason for the mansion-wide disdain Tierra inspired, but this explanation bothered me more, even, than any of the catty confessionals, unnecessarily smacky kisses, or rubbery mascara excesses that featured in the first five hours of the episode. Whatever the girl’s real faults—she’s not engaging enough?

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Leaving Stuff Out

As it turned out, my experience of reading The Poisonwood Bible took place largely outside the book. Everyone who saw me reading it flew into passionate tones, recalling particular descriptions, scenes, or characters with a fondness I recognized well—I have felt and do feel it for my own favorite books and the characters that inhabit them. Their enthusiasm was infectious. I was excited to delve further, deeper into the story, and for a while, I was swept up in the complete engrossment that usually delivers me into “favorite book” territory.  It’s a beautiful book with real, vivid characters and a thought-provoking, at times gut-wrenching, message. It’s got an unforgettable setting and an epic story arc. Oprah loved it.

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