Target audience

Three Tips to Fight the Blank Page Effect

PHD Comics: Writing

You have a report to write for work, an essay for school, or the perfect novel that will make you rich and famous. You know your audience, you know your topic, you have done your research. You think this is going to be the easiest thing I have ever written. You sit down at your desk, fire up the computer, and open your preferred program for writing. There it is the blank page.

You stare at it, five minutes go by. You begin to type, shake your head, and delete the thought that had  just formed. You reread your notes or browse through your research. You look at your computer but the blank page is still there. Another five minutes go by. You decide to get a drink, go for walk, do some more research but the blank page is still there when you get back.

How do you fight the blank page effect? Do you really want the secrets? Do you really want to know? Here are my three tips:

First, just type or write something that is relevant to your topic. Don’t delete it just keep going until you find your inner muse that will guide you through the document. Believe me once you start the words will flow.

Second, have a co-worker, friend, or professor look it over once it is finished to get some advice. There is a rhythm to words that if done correctly brings excitement and curiosity to the dullest of topics. However, if the sentence structure or punctuation is in correct, the reader is jolted out of the topic and quickly loses interest. Having someone read your document and just have them mark the places that jolt their eyes will help you correct your document and make you a better writer.

Third, be your self. If you are a class clown don’t try to come across as an academic. If you are an academic don’t try to come across as a class clown. Each of us has our own life experiences, therefore, each of us have our own voices when we write. This is probably the best piece of advice I can give you, however, it is one of most difficult to achieve. Writing is a very personal experience, it lets people see a side of you that normally does not show. For me, its like, I forgot to put a bra on before going to work. I am still covered but I feel like everyone is staring and judging me. However, if you can find and use your inner voice, you will be one hell of a good writer.

By Melinda Anderson

Hit and Miss; Our Marketing Flier Mistake

When we first started this business, we printed up fliers to hand out to potential customers and clients. We created something quick and did not revisit it until almost six months later. Here is the original, keep in mind it is two fliers on one page, DragonTechone page flier

It has all the pertinent information such as business name, services, blog address, names, contact information, etc. However, it is a jumbled mess. There is no organization for a reader’s eyes to follow. There was no thought what so ever put into this flier; other then to get our name out quickly. This is a mistake that most businesses make, including ours.

Anything that has your businesses name, logo, or information needs to be carefully planned, discussed, and executed to make sure that it reflects your business and the audience you are targeting. It could be as simple as a flier or as complex as a website. The point is you have about 3 seconds to catch your audience’s attention before they move on to the next business.

This flier is part of our marketing campaign to introduce us to professionals and businesses that may need our services and it does not show who we are or the services that we offer. We quickly came up with a layout and design that reflected what we could do for other professionals and businesses. Here is the new flier, still two fliers on one page, DragonTech Writing, Flier. Can you spot the differences?

This flier has the exact same information as the first with some tweaks. It catches the eye and is organized for our audience to scan it quickly. Our business name and logo are now separated from the information by stylistic elements. Okay, it is just a line but it still allows a reader to zoom in on the business name. The second line lets the audience know that they are done reading. It also tells us where to cut the flier so we don’t accidentally cut out information.

This is the flier we should have started with to market our company. This is what we can do for you or your company, point out the flaws in your documentation then create a design and templates that represent your business accurately.

The Changing Face of Technical Writing:

At a recent job fair, one of the recruiters said something to the effect, “They don’t have those any more do they?”  Many of the vendors at the fair were looking for engineers and other technical professionals, but I did find several firms looking for technical writers, many on a contract basis.

The question is, Is the field of technical writing going away?  The answer is no, unless, engineers and other technical professionals learn to use language that clients and customers can understand and are willing to write the marketing and training materials that go with the procedures and products they produce.  However, the technical writing field is changing.

I was recently reading a blog that was discussing changing the title of Technical Writing to something more current.  The problem is, while the field of technical writing is expanding, attempts to change the title would only give upper management an excuse to lower the  wages and professionalism of our field; not too mention create confusion among the field itself and emplyers.  Currently, many firms are eliminating their full time technical writers and hiring contract technical writers or temporary technical writers as the need for documentation arises.

These new developments make work in the field of Technical Writing a different creature.  There are challenges, but there are also opportunities to expand the field as well.  The face of Technical Writing is changing.

DragonTech Writing, championing the cause for technical writers.

By Neil Dabb

Revised Mission Statement

I met with my partner, Neil, and we revisited the mission statement that I had created. This is what I had created:

DragonTech Writing is a contract technical writing service that provides documentation in the following areas software, process, business, marketing, and portfolios (resumes/cover letters) for companies and individuals. Our mission is to provide companies and individuals with documents that are clear, concise, and useable for their customers, clients, or perspective employers.

While he did like it, he felt that it could be stronger. Keep in mind that he has experience writing mission statements for non-profit organizations.

Our mission is to provide local businesses, individuals, and entrepreneurs with clear and concise business documents (such as resumes, cover-letters, business and marketing plans, instruction and operations manuals, portfolios, etc.) as well as instructions on how to use those documents. We will also aid businesses in documenting processes, hardware, and software.

What he did is he put the people and places that we are targeting first; whereas, I put the types of document first. Basically, that is our market people or businesses who need help with documentation. Our market is not documents, they are not going to make conscious decisions to hire us.

He then stated that we will provide these companies with clear and concise business documents and created a list in parenthesis that clearly shows what we offer. We offer a wide range of services that will continue to grow as our business develops. The parenthesis state here is what we have so far but we are not limiting ourselves and we will offer instructions for the use of these documents if needed.

I will admit I was upset at first; its that ego thing that gets in the way from time to time. In the end, I quickly realized that his mission statement wasn’t better than mine. They both state the exact same thing but his is stronger and targeted for our market.

Marketing

I just finished a free slide show called Marketing 101: The Fundamentals by SBDC Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. It had a lot of information that seems extremely useful; especially, since I am going to run the marketing side of the business. However, it had information that I just didn’t understand and probably won’t until I actually start working on our marketing plan.

A marketing plan says this is our product or service, this is how much we charge for our product or service, this is our target audience, this is how we are going to reach our target audience, this is how much we are going to spend to reach our target audience. For example, My husband, Jason, has started a painting company with his friend, Darin, A & M Coatings. Their service is painting and or staining walls, floors, ceilings, etc. Their basic fee is  $2.20 a square foot. Their target audience is business owners, contractors, and home owners. They spent maybe a total of $20 to print out business cards from home. They then drove around, looked for buildings that were being built, and talked to the contractors or business owner’s. After about one week, they put in about 10 different bids and got 6 of them.

My partner, Neil, has talked to people at various different career fairs. We have our business cards and flyers that we hand out to anyone and everyone. We have a blog page and a Facebook page. We are both on Linked In and members of various different groups. We also do not have any work coming in.

The slide show mentioned taking doing polls and surveys to find out what consumers want or need in regards to your business, products, or services. Both of us, Neil and myself, are technical writers. Neil specializes in process documentation and instructional design. I specialize in documenting software, writing service bulletins, and creating layouts. We are also adding services such as business plans and resumes just to kinda give us a kick start. Here’s the question, anyone can answer, what kind of marketing ads or promotions would like to see from us?