JFK International Airport
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31st July is the birthday of New York International Airport, founded in 1948 and later renamed in honor of President John F. Kennedy. It might not seem terribly important, we are pretty blase about airports these days, but the aeroplane has only been around for 100 years.

Where would your product or service be without air travel? Would it be made in the same place as it is now? What would that do to the price? Many products are imported by ship, but airplanes still carry the international mail, and the people needed to do the deals which result in the imports.

There’s lots to be said, so write and be read.

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A great white shark at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico....
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If you’ve been watching the Discovery channel at all this week, you’ll know it’s Shark Week. We’re all waiting for the Craig Ferguson special; will our intrepid hero deconstruct the wild life program as he has late night TV? My guess is no, because Mr Ferguson like the rest of us is under the spell of the animals – deadly but graceful, an ancient design that hasn’t changed because it can’t be improved.

So if you’re stuck for an angle or a topic to write about today – how about sharks? The Internet has more than it’s fair share. What is there about your product or service that’s like a shark? Maybe you’re fast and efficient? Maybe you’re fantastically well designed, maybe you protect people FROM sharks. The comparisons are there to be made, so write, and be read.

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Follow Me!

On July 29, 2010, in Twitter, by lesley
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It has been a couple of days since my last post, but I haven’t just been slacking. I have actually been poorly, and so have my sisters and my cousins and my aunts, well actually I have no sisters and only a couple of aunts and I think they are fine, but I was feeling a little eccentric today, so there you are. The entire family here has been struck by a tummy bug, we’ve all been feeling terrible and I don’t know about you, but that makes me less inclined to write about anything good, and you know what Thumper almost said, ‘If you can’t write anythin’ nice, dont write nothin’ at all’. So I took his advice.

But I did do something else. I discovered twitter.

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Do You Have a Brave Heart?

On July 22, 2010, in Article Marketing, by lesley
William Wallace Monument Stirling, Scotland
Image by missresincup via Flickr – The Wallace Monument nr Stirling in Scotland – the fish and chip shop was in the street below.

Today is the 700 and somethingth anniversary of the Battle of Falkirk. I don’t expect that means much to you but it was a pivotal point in the War of Independence. Not the American War, the Scottish one. And it got me thinking about the internet and how we use it, and how branding is pretty crucial to everything we do.

Can’t see the connection between the Scottish War of Independence and the Internet? I’ll get to that in a minute.

For much of it’s history there has been an uneasy relationship between my country, Scotland and it’s southern neighbour. From time to time there has been outright war, and for a time at the end of the 13th century, that was a war for survival as a nation when the English King claimed Scotland as his own. The Battle of Falkirk was a famous defeat for the Scots and I’d like to say I remember it because I was a really good student in school, but the real reason is that when I was a child we often travelled across Scotland at weekends.  We usually stopped near a monument to the Scottish general who lost the battle because there was a particularly good fish and chip shop there, right beneath the monument.  Never had fish and chips? You have missed out.  But I bet you’ve heard of the general. His name was William Wallace.

William Wallace is a legend. His sword is kept in the ‘Wallace Monument’ (the one near the fish and chip shop) and is more than five feet long. This is no elegant epee, the sword is a huge claymore five feet 6 inches long and weighin oe than six pounds.  The inference is that it would have taken a giant to wield it. And as a giant he has passed into legend.

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Sketch about the two forces, pressure gradient...
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Yes, it can, and it should be.  Every type of writing is creative, that’s what makes it fun.

But we’ll get back to that later. First let me deal with the writing topic for today. If you’re following me on twitter (and if not, why not? http://www.twitter.com/lesleyorice) you should know that today’s writing topic is temperature. The reason is that today is the anniversary of the day on which the lowest temperature EVER was recorded at Vostok station in Antarctica. I can’t even begin to imagine what temperatures so low are like – just taking about them makes me feel cold-  and I’m sitting here on my balcony in the Florida sunshine.

Antarctica is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. It’s the coldest, highest, windiest, driest, iciest place on Earth. It’s not just the numbing temperatures, the vast interior of the continent is a desolate plateau over 7000 feet high with mountains rising to over 14,000 ft. Even at  the coast, the katabatic wind rushes down at hurricane speeds, it’s the sort of place that sends fiction writers into frenzies and brings out the thesaurus; just how many different ways can you say its really, really cold?

But those of us who write solid factual stuff don’t need to bother with any of this descriptive rubbish. Do you find yourself writing wonderful wordwells before you create your articles ?  Well, maybe you should.

Psychologists have shown that while some people think in words, a great many think in pictures and one of the best ways you can get any message across to your audience is by painting  a picture in their heads.

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The economic success of the United States allo...
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For as long as I can remember I have been a space nerd, and I was a lucky space nerd, because when I grew up, I got my dream job working with NASA, but don’t let me ramble, that’s a story for another day.

Today, I’m thinking about space because all those years ago, July 16th 1969, Apollo 11 lifted off on the journey to the moon, and that’s a day I’ll always remember. Visiting the space center now (my kids are convinced it’s the only reason we came to live in Florida) I can see that the Saturn Five was even more awesome than it seemed on TV.  Over 360 ft tall the enormous rocket dwarfs the cramped capsule at the top which carried three men on such an amazing adventure. Would there be a fire in the capsule before launch, as happened in test?

Would the launch be successful, would the spacecraft reach the enormous speed required to escape the Earth’s gravity, and once it had, would the engines fire to bring it back around the moon, ready for landing and the voyage home?

All these years later, it’s still exciting.
So I have to be honest and say that I mourn the days of the great adventure, the days when we really did go where no man has gone before, and didn’t just do it on TV.

Did it just get too expensive or do we lack the vision of the generation which really explored the final frontier?

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The Key is Diversity

On July 15, 2010, in Content Creation, by lesley
The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum.
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Two hundred and eleven years ago, Scientist/archeologists accompanying Napoleon in his conquest of Egypt, discovered a big black stone.  They were no doubt hot and dusty. The stone was large. Its quite amazing, in many ways that they bothered with it at all, especially since in weighs over 1,700 lbs, but bother they did and as a result the ancient world of the Egyptians, once a complete mystery began to open up. In 1801, British troops chasing the French from Egypt took possession of the stone and sent it to it’s current home in the British Museum where it has become the most visited exhibit of all, and possibly the most famous single stone in history. I’m talking, of course, about the Rosetta Stone.

The stone was discovered by troops repairing the walls of an old fort. The quickly recognized that it was important and dragged it out, sending it to Cairo for study. Napoleon himself came to see it, and when the French surrendered to the British in Egypt, the stone was just one of many antiquities which were the subjects of major dispute. The French refused to hand them over, the British refused to accept anything less. French historians and scientists were so outraged by the British claim to all their discoveries that they threatened to detroy them all if they were not allowed to take them to France.

As a result, there was a compromise. Scientists were entitled to retain some of their finds (especially the biological specimens) as personal property, and the French attempted to retain the Rosetta Stone the same way, however by some means the British got hold of it and it was taken to England to be presented to the King, displayed in the British Museum and of course copied. Plaster casts were then sent to the principal Universities; Oxford,  Cambridge, Edinburgh and Trinity College in Dublin and the real work began; what exactly did the Stone say?

All this is far from Content creation for websites, or even article marketing, but the Rosetta Stone does have something to tell us, almost 2000 years after it was written.

The stone is famous because it contains a single inscription not in one language, but in three; ancient Greek, demotic and hieroglyphic. Scholars understanding of the first two, gave them the key to the third, the language of an ancient civilization which until that time, had been lost for around 1500 years.  By writing in three, different languages, the scribes had ensured the script was understood by all. The stone dates from a time when Greek was the official language of the Egyptian government, but demotic was the language of Egyptian documents, and hieroglyphics the ‘language of the Gods’. The stone had inscriptions in all three languages in order to address three different audiences, and that is something we can learn from.

Article marketing is a way to bring visitors to your web site. It is also a way to build a reputation for expertise. But there are other important audiences you need to address, and other forms of writing to use. Blogs, such as this one, are an important way of maintaining a dialogue, finding out what interests people and letting them get to know you. Newsletters are a vital component of your business as they keep you in touch with existing customers who are often the best source of business. Tweets and Facebook pages are another way of spreading the word about what you do.

There is no one type of writing, there is no one place to post articles there is no single strategy to follow. The world is more complex; the world is more fun than that. Learn from the ancients and devise a strategy to address a wider audience by talking to them in different ways. Never in history had it been so easy to do so. You don’t need a team of scribes or a huge block of black granite to get yuor message out. Just sit down at your keyboard, write and be read.

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Happy Birthday Gaius

On July 13, 2010, in Article Marketing, by lesley
Caesar, Gaius Julius.
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Have you ever wondered why this month is called July? Once upon a time July was called Quintilis a reference to the fact that it was the fifth month of the year. No, I haven’t gone mad, I know July is the seventh month.  The Romans began their year in March (which makes some sense in a way) but changed the calendar to begin with January (named for Janus the Roman God of Doorways) around 450 BC. So that’s why Quintilis was originally the fifth month, it’s also, if you think about it, a reason why the Romans wanted to change the month’s name.  But why ‘July’?
Well, if you look at the title of this post you’ll probably guess the answer. July was the birth month of one of Rome’s most famous citizens, known to us as Julius Caesar, and today, July 13th, is his birthday, so happy birthday Caesar, and thanks for invading Britain, though I’d like to point out that while the Romans conquered most of the world, they built a wall (actually two walls) to keep my people out.  I’m not quite sure what that says about the Scots, but I’m pretty sure it meant that even the Romans didn’t want to mess with us.

So why am I talking about Julius Caesar?

Well Caesar was an interesting man whose name has gone on to give us several words, including Tsar and Kaiser, all synonyms for King or Emperor, but in his  time, (he died in 44 BC) that’s not what it meant at all. In fact no-one is completely sure where the name Caesar came from. His first, or given name wasn’t Julius, it was Gaius, he came from the Cesarean branch of the Julian family – hence his full name was Gaius Julius Caesar. These days we’d probably  hyphenate the last two names or just leave out the middle one. But where did the name Caesar come from in the first place? There are four theories. The first is that the word comes from the Latin for hair and was given to the family because the family’s founder was born with a hairy head. The second theory is that the word comes from  caesius an eye color which today we’d call greyish blue. The third theory is that the family’s founder was born by caesarean section, but the fourth was the origin story Caesar himself preferred; that the name derived from the word caesai meaning Elephant, because the first Caesar had killed or captured an elephant in battle.

But who cares?

Well what this does show us is the importance of a name. Historians believe that the truth of Caesar’s name was that it came from the word for ‘hairy’ but since Caesar himself was bald, the word was not likely to add to his reputation.  By placing his emphasis on the elephant story, Caesar was engaging in branding, turning himself from the possibly amusing Gauis the hairy  (not too imposing) to Gauis the Elephant killer. So successful was this branding, that subsequent members of the family who were not in fact Caesars adopted the name, and it has now passed into language across the globe, including Japanese and Korean, as a word meaning imperial ruler.
Branding is important when you are trying to carve out an Empire, even when it’s the e-commerce variety, so think carefully about branding your articles, their subject and their titles. Think about the name they are published under and think about their tone. Let the brand show through in your writing and like Gauis Julius Caesar build an Empire that is all your own.

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CopyWriting Services can Kill Your Business

On July 9, 2010, in News, by lesley
Taj Mahal, Agra, India.
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A point I’ve made before, and I’m sure I’ll make it again, is that when you write as a way of bringing people to your business, you have to write at least competently. Writers are not perfect and given the speed at which we work on the web, there are more typos around than were ever considered reasonable in the print world.  That said, anyone who advertises their services would be well advised, I think you’ll agree, to try to do so with copy which is reasonably put together.

So here’s an example of something I came across today. An article about outsourcing to India which shows you what can go wrong. I know it looks OK at first, but read further and you’ll see that the words are fine, but the sentences don’t make sense.

I’m pretty certain that this is the result of automated article spinning, process which could turn everyone off the whole process of article marketing.  Read the article and you’ll see what I mean. I’m guessing you wouldn’t be queuing to get these guys to write your content. I noticed it because at the Willful Mastermind class  we were talking about this very thing, and I realized, for the first time that spinning could actually be a useful tool if done with care, which makes me even more aware that whoever spun this article clearly didn’t even bother to read it before publishing it. What does this tell us about the author? Well, actually, not very much.

Exactly the same thing happened to an article I wrote only a month or so ago, and I can assure you it was nothing to do with me. I had published the article in an article directory only to find it spun, on a random site, but with my name still attached. I wasn’t pleased, but if I spent life hunting down all the sites who had made off with my stuff without giving me credit, I wouldn’t do much else, and of course although my name was there, there was no link. So don’t blame the author, they may not even know.

What this does tell you is that no-one reads the posts to that blog before publishing them, so the authority of the website is swiftly and easily destroyed. Looking for good information? Well now you know somewhere not to go.

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Content Corruption

On July 8, 2010, in Content Creation, by lesley
Intercloud lightnings over Toulouse (France). ...
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I live on an eagle preserve and the birds here are truly awesome, although they don’t make an awful lot of noise in comparison to the birdsong type ‘chatter’ I was used to in my garden in Berkshire. One thing I have noticed is that when the weather is about to get bad they go very quiet , and maybe that should have been a warning to me,  apparently where I live goes by another name – it is ‘ lightning alley‘, one of the worst (or best depending on your point of view) places for lightning, not just in the USA, but in the world.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that lightning and electrical equipment don’t go together too well, and I should probably have noticed the huge number of funny looking boxes in the shops, all designed to ‘smooth’ the power or provide emergency backup, but I am still a newb at Floriding (my word for living in Florida) and so it wasn’t until the recent bad weather that I understood what it was all about.

PC’s don’t like storms much, or at least mine doesn’t. They really seem to like being shut down in a controlled fashion and get a bit upset (the disk goes wonky) if not. So last week I nearly lost a lot of work I had done for a couple of customers, but fortunately, it was backed up, so after a bit of fiddling (technical term) I got the articles back and all was well.

So, let me ask you this question.

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