Category Archives: Content marketing

Content writing – get the tone right: 3 tips

To truly be successful, your content writing needs to be consistent and have an identifiable voice. For example, I don’t want my writing to be lifeless or a chore for the reader. I would prefer it to be almost anything else than boring. I would prefer it to be arrogant or obnoxious (obnoxious is when something is unpleasant – don’t worry, I’ll keep the long words to a minimum for you) than boring.

3 tips to bring your writing to life

Here are some ways to batter your writing back into life.

No jargon

If you use jargon you do two things: you limit yourself to those people who already know the terms that you are using and you identify yourself as someone who uses jargon. Keep it to an absolute minimum. Rewrite passages if you find yourself constantly referring to the same terms over and over again.

Use humour

Many inexperienced writers don’t have the confidence to try and be funny using the written word and also make the mistake of thinking that writing is divided strictly into comedy and non-comedy. But most pieces, like life, can be funny sometimes and not other times. That’s fine. Though do be careful to keep the YOLOs to a minimum in your critique of the war photography exhibition you are reviewing.

Don’t obfuscate

Be confident whether you feel you should be or not. You have a voice that nobody else has, so write something that nobody else could. Don’t hide yourself in dull writing because you think that ordinary is the best that you can aim for. Write and rewrite until what is on the screen reflects clearly what you are thinking.


Creating a video promo

Ok, so for the launch of the Cycle Ireland app, I wanted to create a video promo for my homepage. I decided it had to fit within the following confines:

  • It had to be short – 20-30 seconds
  • It had to have a simple message – it’s not a how-to video
  • It had to be exciting and generate enthusiasm

I had 100 videos from which I could use footage. Very quickly I decided that I wanted to intercut rapid-fire clips of them with my core message – “Exploring Ireland by bike made easy”.  The variety of routes in Ireland is a big selling point. The details of the app belong in another video.

I wrote out my script for the video promo:

by bike
made easy
Cycle exploring app on iPhone and Android
Cycle exploring app on iPhone and Android
Cycle exploring app on iPhone and Android
Cycle exploring app on iPhone and Android

That made a 20 second video. I started selecting my favourite 1-second clips from a variety of videos. Then I decided to order the clips from slowest (speed of the camera) to fastest in order to build up excitement through the video.

Video promo music

Sound would be crucial. Resources were limited. I found a piece of music I could use for $40, but something didn’t feel right. It was suitable, but I could not find anything that did not seem very generic, which is understandable on a budget. Something was holding me back…

Then I watched the film ‘Breaking Away’ – the story of a teenager in 1970s-era Bloomington, Indiana who is obsessed with cycling, and with Italian cycling in particular. Great film, and the use of classical music in the cycling scenes was inspired – and reminiscent of this famous video…

So I decided to keep things simple and use the same piece of out-of-copyright music - Symphony No. 25 in G Minor, K. 183: I. Allegro con brio – by Mozart. The length of the piece I wanted to use was 22 seconds, so I added an animation to the logo screen at the end.

Once I edited the clips and put my message in it, all I needed was my logo and the app store logos.

And here we have it:

Logo Design Tips

In July of 2012 I got my logo designed for I had put the task off for a while as I was nervous about ending up with something that I didn’t like, and I felt that a bad logo would leave the whole project looking about as attractive as a tramp in a heatwave’s underpants.

#1 Don’t stress over it

That was my first mistake – I attached too much importance to it. Logos can be amended, improved and changed at will. It is not the most important thing in the world. There is a very clear process to follow. If you end up with a bad result just examine what went wrong, change what you need to change and start again. If you don’t have time to do that, review it an appropriate later date and keep that in mind when you are doing any printing work.

#2 Verbalise what you want

Some people have the idea that they don’t want to influence their graphic designer and would prefer that they come up with a blue sky idea. If you are one of those people, you are a designer’s nightmare, and they are only working with you because better people won’t hire them. You don’t want to be in this situation.

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Contact Form – how to do it

Contact forms are simple. They are a relic of the old days when people used email clients such as Microsoft Outlook. The idea was to save the user the hassle of opening up a separate program.

That day is gone. Now most people use web-based mail, and more of them have their email open more of the time. Contact forms are misused in two main ways.

Contact form abuses

1) Content managers ask for too much information. Look, you don’t need my telephone number ,and you aren’t getting it. So if this is the only way you are allowing people to write to you, I’m not doing business with you.

2) The user is left without the ability to send a copy to themselves. The more complex the typical query, the more important this feature is. If they send an email, after getting a reply they can instantly check the original message if they need to.

Contact form - keep it simple

Contact form – keep it simple

The most important thing about using contact forms is to include your email address as well. When someone emails you they don’t have to write out their name and email address, or risk spelling their email address wrong. Make it as easy as possible for people to contact you.

Oh, and once the form is on your site, do test it.

Site review:

Cycle Ireland is a solution to the problem of navigating Ireland’s backroads by bicycle. We apply the internet to so many aspects of our lives yet there are many areas where we can do so much more. Cycling is one of them.

In 2011 I cycle toured in the US, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy, along with doing a few short trips in Ireland. There was no all-encompassing solution for choosing good routes. Decisions were made by picking through google maps and blogs and miscellaneous websites. There are numerous sites with user-generated routes which did not have enough information to be useful.

So I got to thinking – how can this be done better? Specifically, how can this be done better for Ireland? I had bought the url a couple of months previously.

The descent to Ashleam Bay near Dooega on Achill Island

The descent to Ashleam Bay near Dooega on Achill Island

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Pinterest is a game-changer for content managers

Pinterest has finally hit the mainstream in early 2012 with the revelation that it refers more users than Google+, LinkedIn and Reddit combined. It has gained praise for its simple, beautiful design and addictiveness.

New users quickly find themselves trawling through other users’ boards for hours.

So how does it work? Sign up, install the Pin it Bookmarklet and place it on your bookmarks toolbar. When you are on a webpage, click this bookmark. A list of images on that page will be displayed on an overlay. Select an image, add whatever text you like – usually a couple of lines – click the pin it button and it is placed on one of your boards. Whoever follows you will see it in their stream.

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